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Lola Montès (1955)

The film tells the tragic story of Lola Montès, a great adventurer who becomes the main attraction of a circus after being the lover of various important European men.


(as Max Ophuls)


(based on the novel by: "La vie extraordinaire de Lola Montès") (as Cécil Saint Laurent), (scenario) (as Max Ophuls) | 3 more credits »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Circus Master
Horseman Maurice
Lise Delamare ...
Mrs. Craigie, Lola's mother
Josephine, The maid
Private Secretary
Will Quadflieg ...
Héléna Manson ...
Lieutenant James' Sister (as Helena Manson)
Germaine Delbat ...
Doctor (as Willy Eichberger)
Jacques Fayet ...
Friedrich Domin ...
Circus Manager
Werner Finck ...
Wisböck, The artist

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The film tells the tragic story of Lola Montès, a great adventurer who becomes the main attraction of a circus after being the lover of various important European men. Written by Volker Boehm

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


She lived too intensely and far too well! See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »





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Release Date:

23 December 1955 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Lola Montès  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$12,569 (USA) (10 October 2008)


$107,264 (USA) (20 February 2009)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Restored version)| (Western Electric Sound System)



Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In the nude painting of Lola commissioned by King Ludwig, she is posed identically to the model in the 1814 painting "Grand Odalisque" by J.A.D. Ingres. See more »


When the Circus Master first tries to recruit Lola, he lists San Francisco as an important North American city, and includes Buffalo Bill in a list of major circus figures. This scene is set shortly before Montez left for Bavaria, so it must be late 1845 or early 1846. San Francisco was called Yerba Buena until 1847, and the name Buffalo Bill was first applied in the 1860s to William F. Cody, who was born in 1846. See more »


Circus Master: Wanting to make a name for herself, Lola understood that keeping a good reputation was out of the question. Rumors, scandals, passion - that's what she chose in order to create a sensation.
See more »


Referenced in My Life to Live (1962) See more »

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User Reviews

Glossy 50's facade with a Philospher's Heart
25 October 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

When a movie is hailed as one of the greatest movies of all time, it is hard for it to live up to it, especially when it is the product of the 1950s. A millennium viewer's eye is unkind to this era.

I am one of many who see this film as a clear precursor to Baz Lehrman's MOUIN ROUGE. Lots of spectacle, with a story behind it - sometimes literally behind it, seeping through like a remembered waltz. It should be clear from the circus setting that we are in for a heavily artistic analogy that is jokingly self-referential. This is a story of woman who has not only sold her life story to the rabble, but sold herself as well. Beauty is a commodity with a limited shelf life, and life is to be lived while you're young. The inside joke that this dancer had very little talent, but was world famous, certainly still could be applied to many stars – or – ahem – children of stars who have their own coattail careers.

Many of today's audiences don't see the appeal of Martine Carol, but she is exactly the prototype of the 1950s glossy ideal. Many men don't like all the make-up, but she is undeniably a beauty, and the bust to waist ratio is still the kind that makes men stop and stare… the 1950s word was "stacked." Far from being wooden, she is playing a beauty trapped by her looks. The acting style is an older, more presentational style, but that was still being done in the states in many films at this time, too. Given that the context here is a circus performance, and that a lot is physically being required of Ms. Carol, she deserves more grace from modern audiences..

Ustinov makes the most of his stage presence in this role, and overall, this film gives us a wonderful interplay between the layers of being on-stage, backstage, asides and aborted conversations, and the interplay of memories with what is currently happening. It is a confectionery layer cake that is rarely attempted on film. When you notice that a hard boiled clown is running the show without a care whether his performers die, this clearly is not a story to be viewed only for its surface.

Meanwhile, the surface is early Technicolor lovely, brisk and bright with tremendously artistic imagery, and sweeping music. The bedroom scene with Lizst and Lola shot through a wrought iron frame, surrounded by red curtains… these are film images that live in the mind, that can not be denied. The subtle echos between the Circus sets and the "real" sets are both silly and smart – the latter often being obviously fake sets as well. This is part of the layered reality. The art design echos elements of the silent film "Les Enfants du Paradis." This would have been more obvious to film fans in France in 1955.

This film has been called subtle, it could also be called unclear, even nihilistic. This philosophy was certainly in vogue in '50s Europe. We are left to ponder if all gilded cages are still just cages, and if any road leads to a happy ending. More than anything, it is the closing of this film that makes LOLA greater than the sum of its parts, and makes you sit back and think.

14 of 24 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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