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"The Earrings of Madame de..." (1953)


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#1 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 11:46 AM

In 1953’s The Earrings of Madame De…,  Director Max Ophuls, in his panoramic tracking shots, creates a sumptuous landscape of the Belle Époque era: men discussing politics in smoking rooms, and the women, at their coquettish best, making sure they are desirable at the fancy dress balls in which anyone who matters is present.

 

The two leads, Charles Boyer as the strict, conservative General Andre, and Danielle Darrieux as Louise, his frivolous aristocratic wife, no longer love each other, and worse, don’t even lust after each other.  Both characters have a self-awareness that allows them to step outside of themselves for critical self-examination.  Charles Boyer is horrified at his wife’s perception of him.  But he’s anchored to a patriarchy that, no matter whom it may hurt, must be preserved.  I like the sound of Mr. Boyer’s voice in his native French; it is commanding and musical.  He doesn’t so much converse as issue orders.

 

Ms. Darrieux, behind her manipulative veneer, realizes she’s a terribly vain and spoiled trophy wife. Her only means of escape, physically and spiritually, are with Vittorio De Sica’s refined Baron Donati.   It’s interesting to see Vittorio De Sica play a supporting role, after having directed two masterpieces:  The Bicycle Thieves (1948) and Umberto D. (1952).  Both films used non-professional actors, and defined the Italian Neo Realism style.  So, here is Mr. De Sica, acting in a completely different film, a mannered period drama that would also become a classic.  An irony to this film is that the Darrieux character Louise had to sell the titular earrings to pay off debts, presumably gambling.  Mr. De Sica, in real life, lost alot of money due to his gambling.

 

Well said!     The wife,  who is Italian,  and I were watching this film and she was somewhat surprised to see De Sica in the film.   She speaks French (as well as Italian, English, and Spanish),  so unlike the one language American I am,  she didn't need the subtitles.  

 

Her parents were big fans of De Sica so she call a lot of his films (as actor and director), growing up but she hadn't seen this film.

 

We love French cinema so TCM showing this film, as well as focusing on the under exposed, Darrieux was a treat.


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#2 cinemaspeak59

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 11:34 AM

In 1953’s The Earrings of Madame De…,  Director Max Ophuls, in his panoramic tracking shots, creates a sumptuous landscape of the Belle Époque era: men discussing politics in smoking rooms, and the women, at their coquettish best, making sure they are desirable at the fancy dress balls in which anyone who matters is present.

 

The two leads, Charles Boyer as the strict, conservative General Andre, and Danielle Darrieux as Louise, his frivolous aristocratic wife, no longer love each other, and worse, don’t even lust after each other.  Both characters have a self-awareness that allows them to step outside of themselves for critical self-examination.  Charles Boyer is horrified at his wife’s perception of him.  But he’s anchored to a patriarchy that, no matter whom it may hurt, must be preserved.  I like the sound of Mr. Boyer’s voice in his native French; it is commanding and musical.  He doesn’t so much converse as issue orders.

 

Ms. Darrieux, behind her manipulative veneer, realizes she’s a terribly vain and spoiled trophy wife. Her only means of escape, physically and spiritually, are with Vittorio De Sica’s refined Baron Donati.   It’s interesting to see Vittorio De Sica play a supporting role, after having directed two masterpieces:  The Bicycle Thieves (1948) and Umberto D. (1952).  Both films used non-professional actors, and defined the Italian Neo Realism style.  So, here is Mr. De Sica, acting in a completely different film, a mannered period drama that would also become a classic.  An irony to this film is that the Darrieux character Louise had to sell the titular earrings to pay off debts, presumably gambling.  Mr. De Sica, in real life, lost alot of money due to his gambling.


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#3 TopBilled

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Posted 22 October 2015 - 10:30 AM

Watched this fine French film for the first time yesterday.  I agree with the above summation.  The "earrings" certainly do get around from character to character.  The film is a slow moving eyeful of 19th century luxury and opulent living and deceitful people living pleasant lies.  At the end events speed up hurriedly and death awaits some.  The earrings then are seen lying in a neutral setting where they were donated out of desperate prayer.  They are just cold and dead unfeeling glass perhaps awaiting another destiny of intrigue.

 

What a great description.

 

For some reason, I missed this film when it was on TCM the last time...but I had another chance to catch up with it online. I love these particular actors. And Ophuls, what more can be said about him that hasn't already been covered..?


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#4 roverrocks

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Posted 20 March 2015 - 07:35 AM

Also posted under Films and Filmmakers (in Max Oph?ls thread)

Just watched the new Criterion DVD of Oph?ls' *The Earrings of Madame de...* and found it thoroughly enjoyable, although I'm not sure I'm quite ready to agree with that critic who called it "the greatest film of all time".

It is, however, a tremendously enjoyable movie about star-crossed lovers, played superbly by Danielle Darrieux and Italian actor-director Vittorio de Sica; Charles Boyer plays Darrieux's jealous husband. The movie is memorable in part because of many tracking shots that were apparently fairly new and avant-garde at the time. They certainly are very convincing in allowing us to believe that these two lovers could fall in love so swiftly even when they can only see each other at the formal dances that were so popular in Europe at the time (though no actual year is given, the movie takes place when people still got around in carriages).

There are certainly many interesting themes around and it may be no coincidence that Oph?ls chose Boyer for the jealous husband part, since Boyer had previously played the part of a husband who tortures his wife in Cukor's Gaslight. For his part, de Sica is totally charming and very elegant in a part that totally calls for it (he is a diplomat; Boyer is an army general).

the_earrings_of_madame_de__criterion_dvd

Watched this fine French film for the first time yesterday.  I agree with the above summation.  The "earrings" certainly do get around from character to character.  The film is a slow moving eyeful of 19th century luxury and opulent living and deceitful people living pleasant lies.  At the end events speed up hurriedly and death awaits some.  The earrings then are seen lying in a neutral setting where they were donated out of desperate prayer.  They are just cold and dead unfeeling glass perhaps awaiting another destiny of intrigue.


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#5 Film_Fatale

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Posted 18 September 2008 - 04:59 AM

laffite,
Yes, the wonderful dance sequence does indeed accomplish exactly what you describe.

And the critic I referred to was actually Andrew Sarris, if only because of the blurb on the DVD cover art (which I included in the OP).

#6 laffite

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Posted 18 September 2008 - 12:47 AM

I saw this quite awhile back and remembering liking it quite a lot, though I have a vague sense of being confused with it. You have to keep track of the journey that pair of earrings make! Or something. Much of the movie is lost to memory and I should see again before saying too much but I do remember that wonderful dance sequence between Darrieux and de Sica, which, I believe, was supposed suggest a passage of time and help make plausible that falling "in love so swiftly." I remember Boyer being really strong in this picture.

And, FilmF, wondering if the critic you allude to might be by chance, Pauline Kael, I do remember her capsule review of this movie that appeared originally in the New Yorker, the first word being, "Perfection!" I don't remember her saying it was the "greatest movie of all time." Knowing Kael, as I do, which is not all that much, but of something of her expertise, which was considerable. It seems to me the more you know, then the more you know how many different ways a move can be good, the less one would be inclined to make this ultimate blanket statement, "the greatest of all time," with reference to a single movie. I doubt she would go that far with any movie. But I know she liked it very much.

ps If she did say that I'll have go get the movie and see it, right away in fact. I respect her opinion enough and I would want to see where she is coming from with such high praise.
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#7 Film_Fatale

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Posted 17 September 2008 - 02:57 AM

Also posted under Films and Filmmakers (in Max Oph?ls thread)

Just watched the new Criterion DVD of Oph?ls' *The Earrings of Madame de...* and found it thoroughly enjoyable, although I'm not sure I'm quite ready to agree with that critic who called it "the greatest film of all time".

It is, however, a tremendously enjoyable movie about star-crossed lovers, played superbly by Danielle Darrieux and Italian actor-director Vittorio de Sica; Charles Boyer plays Darrieux's jealous husband. The movie is memorable in part because of many tracking shots that were apparently fairly new and avant-garde at the time. They certainly are very convincing in allowing us to believe that these two lovers could fall in love so swiftly even when they can only see each other at the formal dances that were so popular in Europe at the time (though no actual year is given, the movie takes place when people still got around in carriages).

There are certainly many interesting themes around and it may be no coincidence that Oph?ls chose Boyer for the jealous husband part, since Boyer had previously played the part of a husband who tortures his wife in Cukor's Gaslight. For his part, de Sica is totally charming and very elegant in a part that totally calls for it (he is a diplomat; Boyer is an army general).


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