• Though we fully expected our special edition of Max Ophuls’s long-unavailable The Earrings of Madame de . . . to garner a lot of attention from movie lovers everywhere (this is, after all, the film that elder statesman Andrew Sarris now deems “the greatest film of all time”), we must admit that we’ve been taken by very pleasant surprise by the excited response we’ve been getting to one of the other Ophuls films we released this month, Le plaisir. The New York Times’s Dave Kehr, indeed, focuses his review of our trio of Ophulses—also including La ronde—almost exclusively on Le plaisir, which he lauds as “perhaps Ophuls’s most abstract, most musical film,” noting appreciatively that “it is good to see this neglected, comparatively unknown movie getting its moment in the sun.” In his New Yorker movie column this week, Richard Brody also trains his eye on Le plaisir, a triptych of stories about life’s compromises and the limits of happiness, holding it up as prime evidence of Ophuls’s brilliance: “His elaborate traveling shots suffice to make Max Ophuls one of cinema’s great stylists, but, as seen in Le plaisir, what makes him a great director is his fusion of style and substance.”

    Which isn’t to say that the other two Ophuls releases haven’t gotten their due. In Time Out New York, David Fear singles out La ronde, the director’s “ode to carnal knowledge,” for its sophistication: “La ronde’s . . . tour of a social jungle is the perfect example of how to turn a dirty joke into high art. No one, not even Lubitsch, could make smuttiness seem so elegant and refined.” And for the beloved Earrings of Madame de . . . , USA Today’s Mike Clark and Slant’s Fernando Croce make special note of the seventy-six-page accompanying booklet, including, Croce writes, a “splendid appreciation by Molly Haskell.”

1 comment

  • By George R
    January 22, 2009
    02:25 PM

    Thanks Criterion for making these great old films available in a modern format and with your usual masterful restoration. I've watched La Ronde and am looking forward to Le Plaisir and The Earrings.. All were made about the time I was born ('52).
    Reply