Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Flashback Films
- Joan Fontaine Films
- Louis Jourdan Films
- Max Ophuls Films
- Obsessive Love
- Star-Crossed Lovers
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary asserts that this “exquisite film” — a “dream romance set in 19th-century Vienna” — was “Max Ophuls’s finest American film”, and that it’s a “unique, beautifully realized picture” with a “lovely flow to it”. He lists it as one of the Best Movies of the Year in his Alternate Oscars, where he also names Fontaine as Best Actress. In Alternate Oscars, he writes that while “at first glance [her character, Lisa] seems… weak and controlled by a man”, she’s not only “sweet, polite, humble, and selfless” but “projects… underlying strength, determination, and confidence”, and “has no need to feel debased”. Indeed, Lisa is a fascinating if infuriating female protagonist: while we admire her tenacity and willingness to follow her heart, it’s painful to see her literally giving away her life to someone who can’t recognize her devotion.
Jourdan, meanwhile, plays his role as a talented charmer perfectly, and is unexpectedly sympathetic: Fontaine “should” know better than to maintain lifelong devotion to a known womanizer, and she should have told him years earlier about his son!). Most memorable of all, however, is Ophuls’ fine direction (including many of his “trademarked camera pans”), with each scene perfectly realized, and many notable moments amidst “lush music, elegant settings, and romantic dialogue”.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Joan Fontaine as Lisa
- Louis Jourdan as Stefan Brand
- Many memorable scenes
- Franz Planer’s luminous cinematography
Yes, once, as a tragic classic.
- Genuine Classic
- Important Director
- Noteworthy Performance(s)
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)