Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. France, 1950. Films Sacha Gordine, Janus Film. Adaptation by Jacques Natanson, Max Ophuls, Dialogue by Jacques Natanson, based on the play Reigen by Arthur Schnitzler. Cinematography by Christian Matras. Produced by Ralph Baum, Sacha Gordine. Music by Oscar Straus. Production Design by Jean d’Eaubonne. Costume Design by Georges Annenkov. Film Editing by Leonide Azar. Academy Awards 1951.
Max Ophuls adapts Arthur Schnitzler’s play to delightful effect in this beautiful film. It begins with Anton Walbrook playing host to the audience, setting the scene in turn-of-the-century Vienna and popping up between scenes as various characters in order to facilitate the many crazy love affairs that are displayed. Each scene is played with two people, one of whom progresses to the next scene in a roundabout style that covers all manner of illicit sexual activity between soldiers, married women, prostitutes, poets and aristocrats. As always, Ophuls glides his camera through the entire operation with exceptional ease, and gets pristine performances out of his cast, a veritable Who’s Who of fifties French stardom: Danielle Darrieux (a standout), Simone Signoret, Gérard Philipe, Isa Miranda and Jean-Louis Barrault.