How Did Lubitsch Do It?


Product Details

Columbia University Press
Publish Date
6.2 X 9.4 X 1.6 inches | 2.1 pounds

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About the Author

Joseph McBride is a film historian and professor in the School of Cinema at San Francisco State University. He is the author of many books, including three critical studies of Orson Welles; Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success (1992); Steven Spielberg: A Biography (1997); Searching for John Ford (2001); and Frankly: Unmasking Frank Capra (2019).


McBride subtly and concretely describes the change in cinematic tastes over the course of a century. We who love cinema and Lubitsch should be grateful to have such a book in our lifetime, and it will be the definitive work for years to come.--Molly Haskell, author of From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies
Although Ernst Lubitsch is one of the wittiest, most entertaining, and sexiest of filmmakers, he's difficult to write about because wit and humor are more resistant to analysis than drama. McBride succeeds admirably in this task, providing a comprehensive, in-depth critical analysis and commentary on the cultural significance of Lubitsch's work. His book is a joy to read and a gift to anyone who cares about the art of film.--James Naremore, Indiana University
Joseph McBride's study of Lubitsch matches the breadth and range of his incomparable work on Welles and Ford. Reading it, it is impossible not to want to see each of the director's greatest films again or for the first time - readers will be driven straight to seek out not only the repertory standards but the silents, the musicals, and the German films. It is especially gratifying to see McBride apply his supple understanding of the intricacies of Lubitsch's sexual politics to the paradoxes lurking for contemporary viewers, exploring how the films play both against and into feminist readings. McBride doesn't shy from such explorations, but never leaps to premature conclusions. The book is an act of devotion matched to the heart of its subject.--Jonathan Lethem, author of Motherless Brooklyn
Ernst Lubitsch's work has never needed reappraisal more than it does today, and McBride is just the writer for the job. As usual, he mobilizes formidable research and passionate sympathy to probe a great director's many sides. We see Lubitsch the ethnic comedian, the exile, the romantic, the sardonic satirist, the sly provocateur, the moralist, the supremely confident master of technique. Above all, we see an artist who poured into film after film his keen sensitivity to the vagaries of love and his tolerant wisdom about the ways of the world.--David Bordwell, University of Wisconsin-Madison
It's a wonderful book on a wonderful picturemaker! The work and detail and time put into it -- just extraordinary. Superb! A great service to the public, bringing this unique and brilliant director back to the public's attention. This splendid work does real justice to its subject.--Peter Bogdanovich
Nine well-informed chapters written in McBride's familiar, accessible style.--Matthew Sorrento "Film International "
Though some early Lubitsch films are lost, McBride rescues the director's neglected and underrated reputation, securing his legacy with critical insights and sound scholarship in one of the few full-length appreciations of the artist. Highly recommended.--Library Journal
[This] excellent, authoritative book . . . is chockful of cultivated insights.--Phiilip Lopate "New York Review of Books "
McBride delivers his best book yet . . . A nuanced, thorough look at an important artist and his art.--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
In How Did Lubitsch Do It? Joseph McBride has written a love letter to a filmmaker . . . McBride's detailed appreciations could serve, ideally, as a viewer's companion to the many layers of Lubitsch's art.--Geoffrey O'Brien "Wall Street Journal "
Film historian Joseph McBride's tome How Did Lubitsch Do It? makes a comprehensive and enthusiastic . . . case for [Lubitsch]'s importance.--New York Times Book Review
[McBride] reacquaints readers with the director's genius. . . . Will be a great companion for those interested in underexplored comedies in film history.--Washington Post
A compelling case for Lubitsch as an unequaled master of elegant, sophisticated entertainments marked by sly innuendo and adult sensibilities that have stood the test of time.--DGA Quarterly
A critical study.--Wellesnet
How Did Lubitsch Do It? is one of the most indispensable film books I've ever read, not only a rigorously researched and considered biography and an illuminating analysis of Lubitsch's technique but a broader study of how culture affects filmmaking and vice versa.--Filmmaker Magazine
Revered film historian Joseph McBride's new book, How Did Lubitsch Do It?, explores this master of modern comedy in scintillating detail.--LA Weekly
A critical study.--Mass Live
There is no better time than now for a comprehensive study of Lubitsch like McBride's. . . McBride does much-needed work in showing how Lubitsch was one of the consummate artists America was ever lucky enough to claim as her own.--San Francisco Chronicle
Critical study.--Weekly Standard
[A] fine book.--The Sydney Morning Herald
A book well worth recommending. It is enjoyable, provocative and thorough.--World Socialist Web Site
How Did Lubitsch Do It? is a critical [and] masterful study.--Michel Ciment "Positif "
Named the best silent film book of 2019.--Silent London