After discovering the dead body of Bea Harper’s lover, Bea’s mother Lucia hides the body under the assumption that it was her daughter who killed the man. Martin Donnelly comes to blackmail Lucia on behalf of his partner Nagel and falls in love with Lucia instead. Nagel wants the money and Donnelly kills Nagel to protect Lucia, and then kills himself to end the impossible relationship with the married Lucia. —IMDb
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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Not sure why this has gotten such "classic must-see" treatment. Sure, the noir elements are there and the darkness of the film stands out; James Mason's performance is well done, and the cinematography is noteworthy, but other than that this film is pretty dull and melodramatic. I usually like the German-emigre directors like Fritz Lang and such, but this one is hardly Ophüls' best.
A smart and well-crafted suspense melodrama from director Max Ophuls. Boasting strong performances from Joan Bennett and James Mason in a most unusual kind of quasi-romance, it may only be a minor classic, but solid entertainment for fans of classic thrillers.
After perfecting his Irish accent in Reed's Odd Man Out, Mason gives it another airing in this noir-ish melodrama. He delivers a very good performance as a petty blackmailer trying to extort money from Joan Bennett - in one of her better late roles - but instead becoming infatuated with her. Although elegantly directed by Ophuls in the last of his quartet of Hollywood films, I wasn't as gripped as I expected to be....
Yes, the element of tragic circumstances - as Ophuls expertly depicts - works here, but it's not as effective as seen in "Letter From an Unknown Woman", "Madame de..." or even "Liebelei." Yet the acting between Mason and Bennett does keep it all from sliding into mediocrity.