Broken Lullaby AKA The Man I Killed

Screening on Film
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch.
With Lionel Barrymore, Nancy Carroll, Phillips Holmes.
US, 1932, 35mm, black & white, 77 min.
Print source: Universal

Broken Lullaby is a remarkable film in Lubitsch’s oeuvre. Not only is it his only drama from the sound era, but it came at a time when he had become the leading director in Hollywood due to his costume romances and titillating musicals. Far from all that, Broken Lullaby is a moving antiwar melodrama made at the end of the studios’ cycle of World War I films. It tells the story of a young Frenchman so haunted by the thought of a German soldier he killed in combat that, after the war, he seeks out the dead man’s parents and searches for the courage to tell them his secret. The film failed at the box office and remains underappreciated by those who see Lubitsch only as a glittering sophisticate, but it remains eloquent testimony to the filmmaker’s complete vision of both filmmaking and the human condition.

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That Certain Feeling... The Touch of Ernst Lubitsch

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