Simone Signoret, Anton Walbrook, and Simone Simon lead a roundelay of French stars in Max Ophuls’s delightful, acerbic adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler’s controversial turn-of-the-century play Reigen. Soldiers, chambermaids, poets, prostitutes, aristocrats—all are on equal footing in this multicharacter merry-go-round of love and infidelity, directed with a sweeping gaiety as knowingly frivolous as it is enchanting, and shot with Ophuls’s trademark mellifluous cinematography. –The Criterion Collection
Max Ophüls (born Maximillian Oppenheimer, 6 May 1902, Saarbrücken, Germany – 25 March 1957, Hamburg, Germany) was an influential German-born film director who worked in Germany, the United States and France. He made nearly thirty films.
He started his career as a stage actor in 1919 but moved into theatre production in 1924. Two years later, he became creative director of the Burgtheater in Vienna and, having had 200 plays to his credit, turned to film production in 1929, when he became a dialogue director under Anatole Litvak at UFA in Berlin. He worked throughout Germany and directed his first film in 1931, the comedy short Dann schon lieber Lebertran (literally In This Case, Rather Cod-Liver Oil).
Of his early films, the most acclaimed is Liebelei (1933), which included a number of the characteristic elements for which he was to become known: luxurious sets, a feminist attitude, and a duel between a younger and older man.
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What was a searching exploration of theatricality & love in Letter has congealed with all its visual rhymes and camera movements into a (melacholic tongue in mischievous cheek) worldview. The movie claims affinity with Stendhal; its truer affinities are perhaps with Boccaccio with an additional post-Enlightenment knowing resignation for good measure. Stendhal's vision was far less studied and far more bleak.
A stunning 9’ poster for a French farce and the work of a distinctive mid-century designer.
Left: Jane Birkin in Jacques Rivette's Around a Small Mountain (2009); cinematography by Irina Lubtchansky and William Lubtchansky. Right
Claude Autant-Lara is not an easy man to like. This mainly stems from his disgraceful old age -- Autant-Lara belonged to that generation of