Design for Living

Synopsis: Two Americans sharing a flat in Paris, playwright Tom Chambers and painter George Curtis, fall for free-spirited Gilda Farrell. When she can't make up her mind which one of them she prefers, she proposes a "gentleman's agreement": She will move in with them as a friend and critic of their work, but they will never have sex. But when Tom goes to London to supervise a production of one of his plays, leaving Gilda alone with George, how long will their gentleman's agreement last?
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Director(s): Ernst Lubitsch
Production: Criterion Collection
Rotten Tomatoes:
91 min


- Bonjour.


Oh, nuts.

Well, baby,

the name is Curtis.

May I present

Thomas B. Chambers.

My name

is Gilda Farrell.

Coming back

to the subject of art...

Are you a painter?


What did you say

your name was?


George Curtis?


You exhibited a painting

at the Shale Galleries?


Let me see, uh...

Oh, Lady Godiva, wasn't it?

Did you like it?

I saw it with a friend

of mine. She loved it.

We haven't spoken since.

I, uh, I wouldn't consider her one

of your greatest admirers.

Are you a painter, too?

Oh, no, not me.

I'm a playwright.

I write unproduced plays,

and very good at that kind.

Why didn't you

like my picture?

It's smart aleck.

You're wisecracking

with paint.

It simply creaks

with originality.

Lady Godiva riding a bicycle.

I know what she means.

A bicycle seat

is a little hard

on Lady Godiva's

historical background.

Shut up.

I see. Lady Godiva doesn't

belong on a bicycle,

but it's okay to put Napoleon

in a Kaplan and McGuire


250 unin suit!

Quite right.

That's not history.

And if I may say so,

they, uh, they do wrinkle.

I'm a commercial artist.

I'm being paid

for telling the worid

that if Napoleon

were alive today,

he would wear Kaplan and McGuire's 250

non-wrinkling underwear.

Pure hooey.

You're wasting your time

painting for art galleries.

You should get in contact with some

bicycle manufacturer.

You'd clean up.

I'll give you a good slogan:

"Join Lady Godiva

on Our Tandem. "

Don't say nuts,

not to a lady.

Hurry up, Gilda!

Shake a leg!

It's amazing

how a few insults

can bring people

together in three hours.

It was certainly good to hear

all the names you called me.

I haven't heard 'em since

I left Father and Mother.

What we want to know is

do you like us

better than Kaplan

and McGuire.

Let me tell you, Curtis and Chambers

deliver the goods.


Gilda. Darling.

I don't think

it's Kaplan.

I doubt if it's McGuire.

And it's certainly

not Napoleon.

Take a letter.

Yes, sir.

My dear

Mr. Thomas B. Chambers.

Uh, cross that out.

Mr. Chambers.

Comma, paragraph.

I am writing you

in regard to your

undesirable attentions

to Miss Gilda Farrell.

Hello. Yes.

No, no, no,

that won't do at all.

I want the copy to read exactly

as I laid it out.

"The real

aristocrat surrenders

to Murphy Hold 'Em Up

Suspenders. "

A- and put "Hold 'Em Up"

in a brighter color.

A- and listen, put that French touch

in the suspenders.

Where was I?

"Undesirable attentions

to Miss Gilda Farrell. "

I'm afraid, Bassington,

that you are wrong.

I'm afraid, Bassington,

that you are...

I'm afraid, Bassington,

that you are right,

but nonetheless boring.

Very good. Very good.

Bassington curis

his lips foolishly

and crosses to left.

Bassington speaks.

"There's only one thing

I have to say to you. "

What could he say?

"There's only one thing

I have to say to you. "

Come in. Come in.

"There's only one thing

I have to say to you. "

Ah, Plunkett, Incorporated.

Welcome to Bohemia, sir.

How do you do?

Why, I'm getting on, sir,

in my modest way.

And you?

I'm well, thank you.

You're looking splendid.

That's a fetching tie,

Mr. Plunkett,

and these spats,

very exciting.

What an ensemble.

But, personally,

I don't like derbies.

They give a man

that undertaker look.

My dear Mr. Chambers,

I have come here to speak to you man-to-man.

My favorite type

of conversation.

I wish to broach

a rather delicate subject.

Oh, now, don't let's be delicate,

Mr. Plunkett.

Let's be crude and objectionable,

both of us.

One of the greatest handicaps

to civilization, and I may say to progress,

is the fact that people speak

with ribbons on their tongues.

Delicacy, as the philosophers

point out,

is the, uh, banana peel

under the feet of truth.

And, uh,

if you've come up here

to raise a fuss about Gilda,

this derby is a thing

of the past.

Mr. Chambers...

Mr. Chambers, I don't wish you

to misunderstand me.

I am not Miss Farrell's husband,

nor her fiance,

in any shape, form,

or manner.

I see.

Her devoted friend.

Yes. For five years.

Her guide, I take it,

and counselor.


Her protector.


In other words, Mr. Plunkett, you, uh,

you never got to first base.


I'll overlook that insult.

Thank you.

Will you be seated?

Mr. Chambers, your attentions to Gilda

are undesirable.

Has she been



Oh, good. Good.

I'm very busy, Mr. Plunkett.

I, uh, I'm creating.

Mr. Chambers, there's only one thing

I have to say to you.

You know what it is?

Yes. Immorality

may be fun,

but it isn't fun enough to take

the place of 100 percent virtue

and three square meals

a day.

Now, wait a minute.

Immorality may be fun...

But it isn't fun enough

to take the place...

Of 100 percent virtue...

And three square meals a day.



Uh-uh, not another word.

That-that's a curtain.

...three square meals a day.

And Bassington exits.

Mr. Chambers...

Listen to me,

Plunkett, Incorporated.

I'm in love with Gilda.

I adore her.

I'm quite insane

about her.

I love you, Gilda.

That's sweet to hear.

You know, sometimes I wonder

what I see in you.

You don't appreciate me,

and you know nothing about art.

Maybe you love me

because I'm an imbecile.

It must be

something like that.

I really love you.

I'm amazed at myself.

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Ben Hecht

Ben Hecht (1894–1964) was an American screenwriter, director, producer, playwright, journalist and novelist. A journalist in his youth, he went on to write thirty-five books and some of the most entertaining screenplays and plays in America. He received screen credits, alone or in collaboration, for the stories or screenplays of some seventy films. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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