The Earrings of Madame de...

The Earrings of Madame de… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my view, the Max Ophuls film The Earrings of Madame De . . . (1953, a.k.a. Madame D . . .) is not art, but rather a lovely, outstandingly directed and edited work of craft.  Adulterous love arises in French aristocratic culture, as it does in Renoir’s The Rules of the Game, but here there are no lower class folks playing the game as well.  Plus Ophuls keeps a certain distance from his characters, going in for tragedy instead of sardonic farce (as in Renoir).

Charles Boyer, as a general, knows how to enact a man who can both express love and keep his dignity.  Danielle Darrieux keeps hers too, and is right for romantic tragedy.  Also just fine as an aristocrat is Lia de Lea, the general’s mistress.  Vittorio de Sica, as Madame de’s lover, might have been inspired enough by this film to direct his own male-female stuff (e.g. Marriage Italian Style).

(In French with English subtitles)