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Vittorio De Sica
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 the earrings again and gives them to his mistress, Lola, leaving to go to Constantinople. Where an Italian diplomat, Baron Donati, buys them. Back to Paris, Donati meets Louise... So now Louise discovers love and becomes much less frivolous. Written by
What an elegant and atmospheric overlooked gem this was from Max Ophuls! Depicting in his usual florid and incredibly detailed style the lives and loves of various stereotypical characters from fin de siecle Paris, when the rich supposedly had taste and grace - before us poor diluted them.
Instead of watching people on the metaphorical merry-go-round of love as we did in La Ronde or a merry-go-round of stories as we did in Le Plaisir, this time we watch a souvenir of love, a pair of earrings on their travels back and forth between lovers and the same jeweller. The mature lovers were staid Charles Boyer, coquettish Dannielle Darrieux and romantic Vittorio De Sica engaged at first in playful flirtation but naturally turning into something far more serious: love. You are left at the end to extrapolate the outcome for yourselves, but I doubt they went on as Three! All 3 roles were played with beautiful restraint, De Sica especially, coming so soon after Umberto D's overwhelmingly serious message was ignored.
The roving camera-work paying loving attention to the period background sets was sublime, and as can only be found in Ophuls' best 6 films this is how he would have made the film in 1900! The perfectly timed choreography for the dancing scenes of course extended to nearly everything else, even to things as simple as opening and shutting mirrored wardrobes in Madame de 's gorgeously cluttered bedroom or people climbing up or down a rickety wooden spiral staircase at the jewellers. All in all, marvellous entertainment ravishing to the eyes, of a type you won't see anywhere outside of Ophuls. In fact, words have failed me.
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