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Lady Windermere's Fan

Live Musical Accompaniment by Martin Marks
Screening on Film
Recently Restored
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch.
With Ronald Colman, Irene Rich, May McAvoy.
US, 1925, 35mm, black & white.
Print source: Library of Congress

Among the finest of Lubitsch’s American films of the silent era, Lady Windermere’s Fan is a sophisticated adaptation of the Oscar Wilde play that injects the Lubitsch touch into the classic comedy of manners. Set in the upper-crust world of London’s Mayfair, the story revolves around the pampered wife of a British lord who faces “a grave problem”: finalizing the seating chart for the guests at her dinner party. The world manages to intrude upon Lady Windermere in the form of a would-be suitor (a young, dashing Ronald Colman), a déclassé widow, and the gossip that such society seems to heap upon its own. In a pre-Academy Award era, Lubitsch had to content himself with the film’s emergence on the list of the “Top Ten Films of 1925.” It is also, notably, the first film to have screened at the HFA, in 1979. 

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