Design for Living
[No. 30 in Exhibition]
IN 1933, SCREENWRITER BEN HECHT collaborated with director Ernst Lubitsch on an adaptation of Noel Coward’s play Design for Living (1932). Originally a drawing-room comedy, it became in Hecht’s revision an antic romantic farce. The infusion of his cynical wit and American energy subtly transformed Lubitsch’s style of European comedy of manners. The continental characters and situation of two artists in love with the same girl in Coward’s play became a story about American Bohemian artists in Hecht & Lubitsch’s film. The substitution of a mocking and exuberant slang diction for Coward’s studied wit results in a film that possesses a healthy democratic zaniness essential to screwball comedy.