Margin for Error/A Royal Scandal (2-Disc Set) [DVD] (1943/1945)
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This two disc set from Otto Preminger brings together two of his 1940's titles. A Royal Scandal dwells upon a fictional incident in the life of Russia's Catherine the Great. The story of sexual shenanigans amongst royalty was classic Ernst Lubitsch material. Lubitsch intended to direct the film, however, after being taken ill offered the assigment to Otto Preminger who gave his cast room to manoeuvre and make the most of their epigrammatic dialogue. Tallulah Bankhead takes the lead with blue-blooded bawdiness in one of her all too rare screen appearances. Also of note is the deliciously camp cameo from Vincent Price as the French Ambassador. Margin for Error - When Preminger was asked by William Goetz at Fox to reprise his stage role in Clare Booth Luce's anti-Nazi comedy Margin For Error for the screen, he also convinced Goetz to let him direct it. Preminger, unhappy with the original script, secretly hired a young Sam Fuller to re-work it - although he remains uncredited for it. The film stars Milton Berle as Moe Finkelstein, a Jewish Brooklyn policeman assigned to guard Nazi consul Karl Bauner (Preminger) in pre-World War II New York. Preminger's gleefully hammy performance sets the tone - shaving his head and inserting a monocle he shamelessly steals every scene with his ripely sneering arrogance.
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Top Customer Reviews
The director, none other than Austrian born Otto Preminger. Otto emigrated in the US in 1936 if I remeber well to make his first film there a comedy, Danger Love at Work (available from BFI). He was not specialized in comedy as genre, but I have to say he did a very good job with The Moon is Blue, Margin for Error and A Royal Scandal.
To come back to these two wonderful movies. Margin for Error is a black comedy of some sort dealing with the German Embassy's affairs in an US town with some very clever and funny lines. Otto plays an unscrupulous ambassador who becomes a victim in the end in a really tremendous situation. The other star of this movie is Joan Bennett. The script is signedt by Samuel Fuller. The 2nd movie is A Royal Scandal which is a delightful Lubitsch comedy in terms of script, directions and so forth. It is set in the Russian period reigned by queen Katherine. This movie should have been made by Lubitsch who felt ill and gave the project to Otto Preminger. Amazing conflicts arise both in personal and ,,professional" life of Katherine the Great. Nonetheless Charles Coburn is at his highest, together with Anne Baxter, Tallulah Bankhead and a short apearence of Vincent Price. The plot is constructive and the end classic:) Enjoy two rare movies that are not that known in Otto's filmography!
he wanted Otto Preminger to take over. The Big O couldn't direct comedy,
alas. I give the movie 4-stars for allowing us to see Tallulah Bankhead
in a rare screen role. This was made shortly after her NY Critics (Best Actress)
Award for "Lifeboat." She's wonderfully funny as Catherine the Great
and the force of her personality is like a ripping tornado. Pauline Kael
writes that "she gives this sex farce a sort of low glitter...and does
wonders with a few line readings." She adds that the script is marred
by horseplay and dumb wisecracks. It's also marred by the Big O. Here's
a forgotten tease for Tallulah fans and film historians.