La Ronde

Movie Information

In Brief: Stylistically, the films of Max Ophuls are certainly of a piece, in a similar tone of voice. All of them could be summed up with the same phrase used by the narrator (Anton Walbrook) of La Ronde (1950) when he explains that the story is set in 1900 Vienna: "I adore the past. It is so much more restful than the present and so much more reliable than the future." The mood of the film has much in common with the comedies of Ernst Lubitsch, yet it’s difficult to imagine him making a film quite like La Ronde. Lubitsch did let Maurice Chevalier directly address the audience on occasion in his movies, but those were just touches. Ophuls has built La Ronde entirely around the presence of an interlocutor (Walbrook), who also takes an active role in the proceedings (while wearing various disguises) and helps guide the action. The film simply follows the sexual progression of a series of characters: a prostitute (Simone Signoret) has a “knee-trembler” under a bridge with a soldier (Serge Reggiani), who then seduces a housemaid (Simone Simon), who then beds her employers' son (Daniel Gelin). The son then becomes involved in an affair with a married woman (Danielle Darrieux), whose husband (Fernand Gravey) takes up with a dressmaker (Odette Joyeux), and so on. The stories are told in a light and stylish manner that is first and foremost playful. And despite the film’s subject — which is most definitely sex more than love — it’s hard to imagine anyone finding it offensive.
Genre: Comedy-Drama
Director: Max Ophuls
Starring: Anton Walbrook, Simone Signoret, Simone Simon, Danielle Darrieux, Fernand Gravey, Isa Miranda
Rated: NR

The Hendersonville Film Society will show La Ronde Sunday, Feb. 14, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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