Victor Milner (1893-1972) photographed many of the most wonderful romantic comedies of the 1920s through the 1940s, though his filmography as a cinematographer lasted from 1913 to 1953.
Love Me Tonight (1932, dir. Rouben Mamoulian) – The opening of the film shows the influence of European cinema and montage. Unusual angles and camerawork distinguish this sequence, like the fast zoom-in at 2:37. The images move so fluidly with the accompanying sounds, much more so than in other American films of the era. When the camera enters Maurice Chevalier’s bedroom, it does not immediately focus on him; instead it points out his iconic straw hat hanging on the wall, a nice touch for the audience.
Trouble in Paradise (1932, dir. Ernst Lubitsch) – Here we see a brief glimpse of the romance between Kay Francis and Herbert Marshall. I love the way Milner displays the lovers in mirrors and, quite suggestively (though it is a pre-Code film), as shadows on a double bed. I would also like to highlight the first few minutes of the film, which I couldn’t embed as a video on WordPress.
The Lady Eve (1941, dir. Preston Sturges) – The Lady Eve might be the greatest romantic comedy ever made. It is perfect. This delightful shoe selection scene shows Barbara Stanwyck bewitching Henry Fonda with her shapely leg and foot. The POV shot at 1:43 when Stanwyck appears in a hazy fog highlights Fonda’s dizzy attraction to her, dazed by her beauty and by the scent of her perfume. In an amusing coincidence, the song playing in the background (“Isn’t It Romantic?”) is sung at the beginning of Love Me Tonight.