41. “The Earrings of Madame de…”, Max Ophuls (1953)

Part of The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list.

The earrings of Madame de

The Earrings of Madame de… aka Madame de…

dir. Max Ophuls scr. Marcel Achard, Max Ophuls, Annette Wademant based on the novel Madame de… by Louise de Vilmorin cin. Christian Matras with Danielle Darrieux, Charles Boyer, and Vittorio de Sica

In 100 words: Andrew Sarris referred to this as the most perfect film ever made and it is hard to think of anything particularly wrong with this film: Ophuls’ camera movements elegantly but dexterously weaves through any obstacle, in surprising ways. His camera’s refusal to leave the characters’ side speaks not only to Ophuls’ mastery of the form, but also of how involving the story is: earrings become the axis on which the plot revolves. Beyond being a fabulous tale of adultery, it is a stunning story about how all the riches, titles, and reputation in the world would mean nothing without love.

Other Movies for Context: The great Max Ophuls had some of the most admirable camerawork in the history of film. I personally rank him alongside Mizoguchi in terms of the long take. His other works, however, haven’t exactly spoken to me the way this has: The Letters from an Unknown Woman (1948) felt like a creepy display of love and I was never truly involved in its story, while Lola Montes (1955) doesn’t feel as deep or as interesting as this one, despite the luscious colors of that film.

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