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“The Lubitsch Touch”

The first Ernst Lubitsch film to have what was later called the “Lubitsch Touch” was 1919’s The Oyster Princess, a satire of American mores. Within four years, the German director was working in Hollywood, deploying his understanding of his adopted country to the amusement of his new countrymen. This sampling of the director’s work ranges from early films such as the silent Lady Windermere’s Fan (pictured, Feb. 13 at 6:30 p.m.) to one of his last, the then-controversial anti-Nazi comedy, To Be or Not to Be (Feb. 6 at 9:45 p.m., Feb. 9 at 8 p.m.). Many of Lubitsch’s movies featured Americans (or at least American actors) overseas, engaging in deceits that would have seemed less savory at home: In The Shop Around the Corner, Budapest co-workers James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan come to realize that they’ve been engaging in an anonymous epistolary romance (Feb. 14 at 5 & 8:30 p.m., Feb. 15 at 1 p.m.). In Monte Carlo, a destitute Jeanette MacDonald tries to choose between her true love and a rich suitor, not knowing that the former is also wealthy (Feb. 14 at 6:45 p.m., Feb. 15 at 4:15 p.m.). In Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife, the much-married Gary Cooper meets the formidable Claudette Colbert in the Riviera store where both are eyeing the same pair of pajamas (Feb. 15 at 2:45 p.m., Feb. 18 at 6:30 p.m.). At the Kennedy Center’s American Film Institute Theater. $6.50. (202) 785-4600. (Mark Jenkins)