The Oyster Princess
(Die Austernprinzessin)

Live Musical Accompaniment by Robert Humphreville
Screening on Film
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch.
With Victor Janson, Ossi Oswalda, Curt Bois.
Germany, 1919, 35mm, black & white, silent, 60 min.
German intertitles with English subtitles.
Print source: Deutsche Film Institut

Made during the most prolific year of Lubitsch’s career while still in Germany, The Oyster Princess marked a new direction for the director’s work in comedy—away from slapstick and toward a more sophisticated form of satire. The target of his humor is the American bourgeoisie, personified by a wealthy businessman, the “oyster king,” who is ensconced in a European villa filled with servants and assistants. Material wealth, however, is insufficient to satisfy the ambitions of these Americans, and the businessman’s daughter, having read of the marriage of the “shoe-polish princess” to a nobleman, begs her father to buy her a prince. The ensuing tale manages to wring humor from both the boundless hubris of the Americans and the haughty attitudes of a European aristocracy now fallen on hard times.

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