Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
France, 1952. Compagnie Commerciale Française Cinématographique, Stera Films. Adaptation by Jacques Natanson, Max Ophuls, Dialogue by Jacques Natanson, based on stories by Guy de Maupassant. Cinematography by Philippe Agostini, Christian Matras. Produced by Edouard Harispuru, M. Kieffer. Music by Joe Hajos. Production Design by Jean d’Eaubonne. Costume Design by Georges Annenkov. Film Editing by Leonide Azar.
Max Ophuls adapts three Guy De Maupassant stories for an aesthetically pleasing film that whiles away the time with its beauty and delicacy. All set in the nineteenth century, the first story is a short prologue about an old man who deals with age by masking himself as someone younger and dancing his cares away at a ball, only to hit his limit and have to be taken home on the brink of death. The second has a house full of prostitutes take a leisurely trip out to the countryside where they attend a church service and see the effects that restraint has on a life that is usually devoted to pleasure. Following this is a gorgeously shot stormy romance between a sculptor and a model that ends in tragedy. As usual, Ophuls goes nowhere in terms of depth: his films are often celebrated for their complete devotion to surface, but what is on the surface is meticulously filmed by his constantly moving camera and gorgeous attention to period detail. Danielle Darrieux is a standout in the second tale as the girls’ madam.
The Criterion Collection: #444
Academy Award Nomination: Best Art Direction-BW