Max Ophüls – De Mayerling à Sarajevo AKA From Mayerling to Sarajevo (1940)

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Synopsis:
In the late 1800’s, Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire, falls for Sophie Chotek, a Czech countess. He’s already a problem to the Crown because of his political ideas; this love affair with someone not of royal blood breeches protocol. The Crown allows the union only after the couple agrees to a morganatic marriage. The emperor further neutralizes Franz by making him inspector general of the army, sending him afield for months at a time. In June of 1914, fearing for his safety, Sophie seeks permission to accompany Franz to Sarajevo; protocol dictates that no army troops attend Franz while she is present. An assassin strikes. Their deaths spark World War I.

— IMDb Continue reading

Max Ophüls – Divine (1935)

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Synopsis:
Ludivine Jarisse is a young woman who lives a contented but unexciting life in the country. One day, she is visited by Roberte, an old friend who has made a career for herself as an actress at a Paris music hall, L’Empyrée. Roberte intends to take a break and invites her friend to take her place. Ludivine readily accepts, and soon becomes a musical hall diva under the name Divine, although she is at first reluctant to expose herself in the revealing costumes she is given. One of her colleagues attempts to take advantage of her naivety, but when she resists, he implicates her in a drugs trafficking affair. Divine remains untainted by all this vice and falls in love with an honest milkman, Antonin. He offers to marry her and she is finally able to leave the music hall to start a new life, back in the country. Continue reading

Max Ophüls, Stuart Heisler, Mel Ferrer, Preston Sturges, Paul Weatherwax – Vendetta (1950)

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Max Ophuls’ first American film. Fired by Howard Hughes after falling behind schedule, Ophuls was replaced by Preston Sturges, who had written the script. Sturges was then fired also. Over the next four years, Hughes tinkered incessantly with the project, and an array of writers and directors had their way with it. Finally editor Don Siegel attempted to put the thing together and make sense of it.

So the movie is messy but with stunning sequences. Most sources credit Mel Ferrer with directing the ending, but it’s clear he only shot the leaden coda. The actual climax is a beautifully orchestrated, stunningly lit stalking scene with the principal characters hunting each other through a misty wood. Absolutely beautiful, and if this is what made Ophuls go over schedule, as seems likely, he was right to take the time to get it looking this amazing. Continue reading

Max Ophüls – La signora di tutti AKA Everybody’s Woman (1934)

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Plot & review:
From a novel by Salvator Gotta, scripted by the director with Curt Alexander and Hans Wilhelm.
Under anesthesia, after a suicide attempt, Gaby Doriot, movie star, relives her life and her unlucky loves, sprinkled with violent deaths. The end of the commemoration coincides with that of the surgery.
The first and only Italian film by M. Ophüls, in exile from Nazi Germany and called to Rome by Angelo Rizzoli.
Despite the exaggerated romanticism and the vehement acting “Italian style”, it is a cooled melodrama (with veins of Pirandello) that anticipates the themes of later Ophüls’ films, especially Lola Montès (1955).
M. Benassi heatedly over the top, and a memorable I. Miranda, poised between Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich.
Awarded at the Venice Film Festival.
Morandini Continue reading

Max Ophüls – Caught (1949)

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Synopsis:
Young model Leonora Eames (Bel Geddes) marries multimillionaire Smith Ohlrig (Ryan). Ohlrig though is deranged and did not marry for love. Eames insists several times that she married for love, but the film suggests that she is deluding herself. When Ohlrig becomes too abusive, she leaves him, penniless, to find a job at a medical clinic in a poor neighborhood and eventually falls for Dr. Larry Quinada (Mason). Continue reading