Revisiting the Classics: Trouble in Paradise

  • Saturday, May 11, 2024 / 2:00 PM - 4:30 PM (PDT)
  • Pollock Theater
  • Screening Format: DVD (83 minutes)
  • With Charles Wolfe (Film and Media Studies, UCSB) and Patrice Petro (Dick Wolf Director of the Carsey-Wolf Center)
  • Director: Ernst Lubitsch
    Starring: Miriam Hopkins, Kay Francis, Herbert Marshall

A witty and sophisticated classic of pre-Code Hollywood cinema, Ernst Lubitsch’s Trouble in Paradise follows gentleman thief Gaston Monescu (Herbert Marshall) and pickpocket paramour Lily (Miriam Hopkins) as they embark on a series of luxurious heists and cons across Europe. Their romantic relationship becomes complicated when they target the wealthy perfume heiress Madame Colet (Kay Francis) for an elaborate scam. As their criminal schemes unfold, Gaston finds himself romantically entangled with Colet, delightfully blurring the lines between love and deception. Set against the glamorous backdrop of 1930s European high society, Trouble in Paradise is a breezy romantic comedy filled with sly innuendo, clever plot twists, and the witty banter and irresistible charm expected of an Ernst Lubitsch film.

Charles Wolfe (Film and Media Studies, UCSB) joined Patrice Petro (Dick Wolf Director of the Carsey-Wolf Center) for a pre-screening discussion of the enduring legacy of Trouble in Paradise.

Patrice Petro, Dick Wolf Director of the Carsey-Wolf Center, discusses Trouble in Paradise with emeritus Professor of Film and Media Studies Charles Wolf. They are seated in armchairs, and Wolfe is gesturing as he makes a point about the film.


This is a headshot of professor Charles Wolfe. The image depicts a man with glasses, and blue blazer, and a pin stripe blue button up shirt. He is smiling towards the camera, posed in front of a set of doors.

Charles Wolfe (Film and Media Studies, UCSB)

Charles Wolfe is the author of two books on the films of director Frank Capra and has published widely on the history of commercial, independent, and documentary filmmaking in the US. He is co-editor of the AFI’s Film Reader Series, which has published 41 volumes of new critical essays on topics in film, television, and digital media studies.

He chaired the Department of Film and Media Studies from 1994 to 1998, and he served as Associate Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts at UCSB from 2003 to 2008. A member of the Board of Directors of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies from 2006 to 2009, Wolfe has also served on the advisory or editorial boards of Quarterly Review of Film and VideoCinema Journal, and Studies in Documentary Film.

Patrice Petro, the Dick Wolf Director of the Carsey-Wolf Center appears against a background of a bookshelf and a poster featuring Tina Modotti. She is wearing a black v-neck blouse, glasses, and dangly earrings.

Patrice Petro (Dick Wolf Director of the Carsey-Wolf Center)

Patrice Petro is Professor of Film and Media Studies, Dick Wolf Director of the Carsey-Wolf Center, and Presidential Chair in Media Studies. She is the author, editor, and co-editor of fourteen books, including Uncanny Histories in Film and Media Studies (2022), The Routledge Companion to Cinema and Gender (with Kristin Hole, Dijana Jelaca, and E. Ann Kaplan, 2017), Teaching Film (2012), Idols of Modernity: Movie Stars of the 1920s (2010), Rethinking Global Security: Media, Popular Culture, and the “War on Terror” (2006), and Aftershocks of the New: Feminism and Film History (2002). She served two terms as President of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, the largest US professional organization for college and university educators, filmmakers, historians, critics, scholars, and others devoted to the study of the moving image.

This event is sponsored by the Carsey-Wolf Center.

Revisiting the Classics

What happens when a film becomes a “classic”? The Carsey-Wolf Center’s 2023-24 feature series Revisiting the Classics engages creatively and critically with our filmic past, approaching it with fresh eyes and novel interpretive lenses. Not simply a celebration of the “great works,” Revisiting the Classics will consider how classic texts have shaped the work of contemporary filmmakers, how complicated questions of politics and aesthetics emerge through practices of adaptation and interpretation, and how the changing landscape of film distribution, archiving, preservation, and critique affects the formation of canon and the making of new “classics.”