When she is reduced to appearing in a circus, a notorious beauty thinks back on her past loves.When she is reduced to appearing in a circus, a notorious beauty thinks back on her past loves.When she is reduced to appearing in a circus, a notorious beauty thinks back on her past loves.
- Lieutenant James' Sisteras Lieutenant James' Sister
- (as Helena Manson)
Max Ophüls considered the German version the director's cut, and we are fortunate that mecenas and technical people worked together to restore to its best color and sound the 110 min version. The director presents the story in a logic, not chronological order, using the voice of an American Ring Master (Peter Ustinov in one of his best characters) to describe the life of Maria Dolores Elisa Regina Gilbert (an actual person, who lived from 1818 to 1861), who brought herself up from a poor childhood, through torrid passions with musicians, painters, revolutionaries and nobility (she was titled Countess of Lansfeld by Ludwig I, King of Bavaria.
I saw once the English dubbed version, cut to 90m long (or rather 87...), and though the acting and drama were there, they were clobbered by enormous technical defaults, poor sound and scratched picture. Now I've seen the restored version, and I was riveted to the film during each of its 110 min. Martine Carol speaking German when needed, but falling back to her French language when passion or anger naturally lead her to, is so nice to hear. Peter Ustinov is at his best in the scene where he tries to convince the daring but reluctant ruined Countess to go with him to North America, to play in a Circus; she refuses the huge amounts he is offering, but he leaves her a cheque anyway, and remarks dryly: "In America all scandals can be sold - Lola!" Later, when he gives the order that will eventually put an end to her career, and life (33 year old, with a tired heart, the doctor says), there rings of death in his trembling voice, as we see, like the gallant Lola up there in the trapeze, the black void.
"Gentlemen and boys over 16, come in now... You can see it all now, all that has not been ever seen in a circus show, inside the tent. It's only one dollar... only one dollar... only one dollar..." And the voice goes on and one, and the crowd gets thicker and thicker; men in black tie, and jobless chums, shoulder to shoulder for only one dollar; and the voice goes on, as the show must go on. Forever there must be more bright colors, blaring trumpets, funny animals, scandalous lives to expose. Was THAT the end?
- Jan 20, 1999