In the Paris of the late 19th century, Louise, wife of a general, sells the earrings her husband gave her as a wedding gift: she needs money to cover her debts. The general secretly buys ... See full summary »
Vittorio De Sica
An all-knowing interlocutor guides us through a series of affairs in Vienna, 1900. A soldier meets an eager young lady of the evening. Later he has an affair with a young lady, who becomes ... See full summary »
Three stories about the pleasure. The first one is about a man hiding his age behind a mask to keep going to balls and fancying women - pleasure and youth. Then comes the long tale of Mme ... See full summary »
It was Leonora Eames' childhood dream come true. She had married Smith Ohlrig, a man worth millions. But her innocent dream became a nightmare once she realizes the truth about her husband ... See full summary »
Barbara Bel Geddes,
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... See full summary »
This symbol-filled story, filmed with sensuous detail and nuance, is set in Austria in the 1920s. While being treated for asthma at a country spa, an American diplomat's lonely 12-year-old ... See full summary »
Klaus Maria Brandauer
Peking, 1948. A winter night. A man returns home to find a letter awaiting him written by a woman before her death. in the letter she tells him the story of her love for him -a life-long ... See full summary »
In Vienna, about 1900, a dashing man arrives at his flat, instructing his manservant that he will leave before morning: the man is Stefan Brand, formerly a concert pianist, planning to leave Vienna to avoid a duel. His servant gives him a letter from an unknown woman, which he reads. In flashbacks we see the lifelong passion of Lisa Berndle for him: first as a girl who was his neighbor; next as a young woman who, in secret, has his child; then as a mature woman who meets him again and abandons husband and son to be with him. Each time he does not remember who she is or that they have ever met. By morning, he has finished the letter, and her husband awaits satisfaction. Written by
The course of our lives can be changed by such little things. So many passing by, each intent on his own problems. So many faces that one might easily have been lost. I know now that nothing happens by chance. Every moment is measured; every step is counted.
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Much of Max Ophüls' elegant Vienna, so affectionately and painstakingly presented here, vanished during the First World War, but much remains today, the baroque accoutrements, the omnipresent aura of devout Catholicism, the genteel amusements of the Prater, and, of course, the music. In that respect, the musical, Vienna has never emotionally quit the time of Emperor Franz Josef.
The photography here is luminous, so befitting since Joan Fontaine has probably never been more radiant. The film seems custom-made for her demeanour, as early on she plays the mild girl of modest means, the one with that expression like a frightened doe. This is the kind of portrayal which served her so well in "Rebecca" and "Suspicion".
She gains confidence and poise as the story progresses, but the reticence remains. Therein lies the story's drama.
At her height of prosperity, she dons a fur coat of purest white, as white as the helping of Schlagobers which accompanies a Viennese cup of Schokolade. As pure of hue as an unsullied white rose. But the purity of the whiteness is illusory. Franz Kafka was beginning to write at about this time in the Cisleithanian city of Prague to the north; he clearly understood the symbolism implicit in fur. Joan's security is undermined by the illicit secret from her past.
Stefan Brand's dumb manservant is an enigmatic figure. He would seem to be the embodiment of all the emotions left unstated by the principal characters. So much goes unsaid in Max Ophüls' charming Austro-Hungarian tragedy.
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