By Steve Daly
October 24, 1997 at 04:00 AM EDT

Ingeniously exploiting the dawn of movie sound and the twilight of uncensored old-Hollywood scripting, German emigré Ernst Lubitsch turned boilerplate musical-comedy scenarios into exemplars of style, grace, and naughty innuendo. No wonder he remains Billy Wilder’s favorite director. The six features (and one excerpt, from If I Had a Million) collected here — video debuts all — range from creaky (Monte Carlo, ruined by simpering Brit Jack Buchanan) to perfectly fresh (a daring ménage à trois between Gary Cooper, Miriam Hopkins, and Fredric March informs Design for Living, the ’30s ancestor of Chasing Amy). But never mind the trip-ups: They only make Lubitsch’s lightest steps into a deco-drenched world of burled-wood living rooms and burning libidos look all the more magical. A+

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