In Vienna, about 1900, a dashing man arrives at his flat, instructing his manservant that he will leave before morning: the man is Stefan Brand, formerly a concert pianist, planning to leave Vienna to avoid a duel. His servant gives him a letter from an unknown woman, which he reads.
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This was beautiful to look at, but I didn't care for the story or the characters. Joan Fontaine was insipid and pathetic. And I just don't think I care for Joan's acting and the little nose flare thing she does. Her sister is a FAR better actress.
Once again Max Ophuls captures the wit and grace of human emotion but this time around, its drench in utter bitterness. Lisa's romantic yearning and social status struggle hammer the movie's bleeding heart on screen. Sometimes romantic love is never cared for... or actually acknowledged. The saddest max ophuls movie is quite possibly his best.
A sudden, invigorating breath of air moving a woman's hair, the walking up and down stairs, invoking both drudgery and tragedy; only the greatest directors -the Mizoguchis, Welles, Renoires, Ophuls- turn these everyday events, repeated often enough to make them echo through the years, into a Calvary.
Fontaine plays innocence as some sort of pathology. Ophuls is slick, but dedicated to the most demented aspects of its mise-en-scene. He will hide a character within the frame as if to smother them. He embraces silence in a wordy script, especially in the the scenes that move with excruciating slowness, offset by the formal rush produced by the flashback format.
7/10. Memorable melodrama, but not quite what I'd hoped for, given its eminent rank in Ophüls's pre-1950s work. The obvious beauties are marred by facets of commercialism. E.g. all native Viennese speak English here: with a broad Yankee twang, a NYC accent, German/Slavic accents (?!), a French accent, etc. It's absurd. Written words appear in German, except when they have to be understood (then they're in English).