Tag Archives: Max Ophüls

XL Popcorn – The Reckless Moment

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 853/1009Title: The Reckless Moment
Director: Max Ophüls
Year: 1949
Country: USA

One thing that can ruin a film’s illusion for me is when someone acts grossly outside of what you would expect. This is what got The Reckless Moment off to a pretty rocky start for me and, as the film went on, kept happening. Like I know that with a run time of 82 minutes you aren’t going to be able to a huge amount of background work on characters – but the whole thing is sparked because of one thing: a mother thinks that her daughter is capable of murdering her sleazeball boyfriend.

Now, there is being protective and there is being ‘protective’. The mother gives her daughter one chance to own up to the crime she didn’t commit. At no point does she really press her as to why the deceased boyfriend has been found impaled on an anchor – instead she just assumes her daughter is a murderess and proceeds to hide to body in order to protect her family. It’s just a bit… off.

Then you have the blackmail plot where, in the blink of an eye, you have a blackmailer go from ‘give me all the money’ to a doe-eyed lovesick man who is going to protect her from his partner. It was such a quick shift in their dynamic that I am still not entirely sure what happened, unless it was her lecture about being a mother that made him fall for her. It was all just a bit strange.

This is not me saying that Joan Bennett and James Mason didn’t do good jobs with what they were presented as the mother and blackmailer respectively. It’s just that, for me, so much of this film lacked sense as was too easily sown up at the end. Once I was able to switch my brain off for a bit, I was able to better enjoy this interesting take on a noir film. But I am still left with a weird taste in my mouth afterwards that there was a better story here that was not explored.

XL Popcorn – Lola Montès

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 813/1007Title: Lola Montès
Director: Max Ophüls
Year: 1955
Country: France

It’s been two and a half years since I was stood in the Gallery of Beauties in Munich thinking that I really should see this movie next as part of the 1001 list. That was about 150 movies ago and I’ve finally gotten around to seeing it. I don’t know if I hadn’t properly made the connection that this is by the same director of Madame de… and Letter From An Unknown Woman else I might have watched it earlier.

I think the best word to describe this whole production is opulent. At the time, this was the most expensive film made in Europe and it shows. Whilst I am sure that there are some location shoots for the more palatial set pieces, the circus arena alone must have cost a bomb. I’m sure there were ways they could have saved some money, but there’s something extra special in seeing a director go all out.

Much comment has been made about the level of acting from Martine Carol in the titular role. It’s a big and complex role to play and some have found her acting to be a bit too wooden when you would have expected something a bit more alive. For me, I actually quite liked the level of detachment that she gives the character. After all, Lola Montez is someone who needed to be somewhat hardened to the world in order to pursue the life she did.

Maybe it would have worked better with us seeing her becoming more and more removed as life went by instead of general detachment – but I didn’t enjoy the film any the less because of it. This isn’t at the same level as the other Max Ophüls films I’ve seen, but the other two I saw were so great that this was unlikely to match up anyway.