Trouble in Paradise (1932 film)

Trouble in Paradise is a 1932 American pre-Code romantic comedy film directed by Ernst Lubitsch, starring Miriam Hopkins, Kay Francis, and Herbert Marshall and featuring Charles Ruggles and Edward Everett Horton. Based on the 1931 play The Honest Finder (A Becsületes Megtaláló) by Hungarian playwright László Aladár,[2] the film is about a gentleman thief and a lady pickpocket who join forces to con a beautiful woman who is the owner of a perfume company.

Trouble in Paradise
theatrical release poster
Directed byErnst Lubitsch
Produced byErnst Lubitsch
Screenplay by
Based onThe Honest Finder
(A Becsületes Megtaláló)
1931 play
by Laszlo Aladar
Music by
CinematographyVictor Milner
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • October 21, 1932 (1932-10-21) (US)
Running time
83 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$475,000 (US/Canada)[1]

In 1991, Trouble in Paradise was selected for preservation by the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".[3]


In Venice, Gaston Monescu (Herbert Marshall), a master thief masquerading as a baron, meets Lily (Miriam Hopkins), a beautiful thief and pickpocket posing as a countess. The two fall in love and decide to team up. They leave Venice for Paris.

There, Gaston steals a diamond-encrusted purse worth 125,000 francs (about 75,000 euros) from Madame Mariette Colet (Kay Francis), owner of the famous perfume manufacturer Colet and Co. When Mariette offers a large reward for its return, Gaston claims it, giving the name of Lavalle.

While claiming the reward, Gaston charms Mariette, and admits to being broke. Mariette hires him as her private secretary. He arranges for Lily to be employed in Mariette's office, and stands up to Mariette's board of directors, led by Monsieur Adolph J. Giron (C. Aubrey Smith), the manager, who is openly suspicious of him.

Having observed Mariette open her private safe (and memorized the combination), Gaston persuades her that she should keep a large sum there, including half of her next dividend installment. Mariette begins to flirt with Gaston, and he begins to have feelings for her.

Unfortunately for the thieves, Mariette has two suitors: the major (Charles Ruggles), and François Filiba (Edward Everett Horton), who was robbed in Venice by Gaston (posing as a doctor). François sees Gaston at a garden party, and is sure they have met, but can't immediately recall where. Fearing imminent discovery, Gaston and Lily decide to flee that night with what is in the safe, and not wait for the dividend installment.

Mariette is invited to a dinner party given by the Major. She cannot decide whether to go or to spend the night in bed with Gaston. Eventually she goes, but not before Lily catches on that Gaston has fallen for her rival, and wants to back out of the plan.

At the party, the major tells François that he once mistook Gaston for a doctor, and François then recalls the Venice incident. François tells Mariette about Gaston, but she refuses to believe it's true.

Lily robs the safe after confronting her partner. Mariette returns home and suggestively probes Gaston, who admits that the safe has been cleaned out, but claims that he took the cash. He also tells her that Monsieur Giron has stolen millions from the firm over the years.

Lily then confronts Mariette and Gaston, admitting that it was she who stole the money from the safe. An argument ensues, and eventually, Mariette allows the two thieves to leave together. As a parting shot, Gaston steals a necklace from Mariette that Lily had her eye on, and in turn, Lily steals it from him, displaying it to him as the taxi takes them away, hugging each other.



Working titles for Trouble in Paradise included "The Honest Finder," "Thieves and Lovers," and "The Golden Widow"; the latter was publicly announced to be the intended release title.[4] As with all the Lubitsch-Raphaelson collaborations, Lubitsch contributed to the writing and Raphaelson contributed ideas to the directing.[5] Lubitsch did not receive screen credit for his writing, and Grover Jones, who was credited with the adaptation, did not contribute significantly:[5] although he was in the room, his credit was based on a contractual obligation, and he did little more than tell stories.[5][6] Further, although supposedly based on László Aladár's 1931 play The Honest Finder, Lubitsch suggested that Raphaelson not read the play, and instead the main character, Herbert Marshall's master thief, was based on the exploits of a real person, George Manolescu, a Romanian con man whose memoir was published in 1905, and became the basis for two silent films.[5]

Made before effective enforcement of the Production Code, the film is an example of pre-code cinema containing adult themes and sexual innuendo that was not permitted under the Code. In 1935, when the Production Code was being enforced, the film was not approved for reissue[4] and was not seen again until 1968.[7] Paramount was again rejected in 1943, when the studio wanted to make a musical version of the film.[4]

The Art Deco sets for Trouble in Paradise were designed by the head of Paramount's art department, Hans Dreier, and the gowns were designed by Travis Banton.[5]


Trouble in Paradise was the film that first had people talking about "the Lubitsch touch," and it was, in fact, one of the director's favorites.[5] Critic Dwight Macdonald said of the film that it was "as close to perfection as anything I have ever seen in the movies."[5] The New York Times named the film as one of the ten best films of 1932. In 1998, Roger Ebert added it to his Great Movies collection.[8] Wes Anderson and Ralph Fiennes both said the movie was an inspiration for The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014). Review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes reports 91% approval based on 23 critics.[9]

Awards and honors

Trouble in Paradise was named by the National Board of Review as one of the top 10 films of 1932.[3]


  1. "Trouble in Paradise" Archived 2014-04-05 at the Wayback Machine at Kay Francis Films. Accessed 16 March 2014
  2. "Screenplay info" on Accessed=August 24, 2012
  3. "Awards". Retrieved August 24, 2012.
  4. "Notes". Retrieved August 24, 2012.
  5. Nixon, Rob. "Trouble in Paradise (article)". Retrieved August 24, 2012.
  6. Raphaelson, Samson. Three Screen Comedies Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1983. ISBN 0-299-08780-8
  7. Osborne, Robert. Outro to the Turner Classic Movies showing of Trouble in Paradise (March 31, 2011)
  8. Ebert, Roger. "Trouble in Paradise". Retrieved September 27, 2019.
  9. "Trouble in Paradise (1932)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 23, 2016.
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