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Cluny Brown (1946)

3.9 of 5 from 49 ratings
1h 40min
Not released
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Romantic comedy-cum-social satire, set in the pre-war 1930's, from legendary director Ernst Lubitsch. Cluny Brown (Jennifer Jones) is a young London lass who harbours dreams of becoming a plumber. When she takes on a plumbing job at a society home, she meets dashing Czech philosopher, Adam Belinski (Charles Boyer), a refugee from the Nazis. Hoping to climb the social ladder, Cluny accepts a position as maid in a fancy country home, where she once more meets Belinski, who happens to be a house guest, and they promptly fall in love with each other. Then the altogether more rich Mr Wilson (Richard Haydn) appears on the scene and the flighty Cluny must decide where her heart belongs...
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Samuel Hoffenstein, Elizabeth Reinhardt
BFI Video
Classics, Comedy, Romance
Release Date:
Run Time:
100 minutes

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Reviews (1) of Cluny Brown

My Favourite Lubitsch. - Cluny Brown review by Steve Mason

Spoiler Alert

With the fighting over, Lubitsch went back from 1946 to 1938 for this class satire set in a very Hollywood England. Charles Boyer is a Czech dissident Adam Belinski, wanted by the Nazis, who finds himself at a country house where everyone, above and below stairs knows their place. Belinski is an unconventional, insouciant free spirit, which makes him incongruous in this sleepy pre-war world, and he forms a bond with Cluny Brown (Jennifer Jones), a vivacious lady's maid (and plumbers daughter) struggling to accept the straitjacket of tradition.

 In 1946, the old world order was being questioned by men coming back from war and the women who helped run the home front. And the film implies that society and the feudal restrictions of class have to change. It damages and trivialises everyone, either side of the divide.

 The supposed England of before the war is satirised and made to look absurd, whereas the interlopers are lively and iconoclastic. In fact, Cluny is frequently wielding a hammer. She can't keep her hands off the waste pipes. Boyer and Jones are marvellous, and there is the usual excellent support of expat Brits in character roles, most notably, Una O'Conner as a grotesque, permanently offended old lady who communicates entirely by coughing.

 There's some very funny dialogue too, usually of characters unwittingly revealing the ridiculous limitations of their social positions. This was the last film Lubitsch completed. He died the following year at 55 but he ended with a classic film, which deserves to be much better known.

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