Max Ophuls

Le plaisir

Le plaisir

Roving with his dazzlingly mobile camera around the decadent ballrooms, bucolic countryside retreats, urban bordellos, and painter's studios of late nineteenth-century French life, Max Ophuls brings his astonishing visual dexterity and storytelling bravura to this triptych of tales by Guy de Maupassant about the limits of spiritual and physical pleasure. Featuring a stunning cast of French stars (including Danielle Darrieux, Jean Gabin, and Simone Simon), Le plaisir pinpoints the cruel ironies and happy compromises of life with a charming and sophisticated breeziness.

Film Info

  • Max Ophuls
  • France
  • 1952
  • 97 minutes
  • Black & White
  • 1.33:1
  • French
  • Spine #444

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • Introduction by filmmaker Todd Haynes (Far from Heaven)
  • English- and German-language versions of the opening narration
  • From Script to Screen, a video essay featuring film scholar Jean-Pierre Berthomé discussing the evolution of Max Ophuls’s screenplay for Le plaisir
  • Interviews with actor Daniel Gélin, assistant director Tony Aboyantz, and set decorator Robert Christidès
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A new essay by film critic Robin Wood

New cover by David Downton

Purchase Options

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • Introduction by filmmaker Todd Haynes (Far from Heaven)
  • English- and German-language versions of the opening narration
  • From Script to Screen, a video essay featuring film scholar Jean-Pierre Berthomé discussing the evolution of Max Ophuls’s screenplay for Le plaisir
  • Interviews with actor Daniel Gélin, assistant director Tony Aboyantz, and set decorator Robert Christidès
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A new essay by film critic Robin Wood

New cover by David Downton

Le plaisir
Cast
Claude Dauphin
The doctor
Gaby Morlay
Denise
Madeleine Renaud
Julia Tellier
Ginette Leclerc
Madame Flora
Danielle Darrieux
Madame Rosa
Pierre Brasseur
Julien Ledentu
Jean Gabin
Joseph Rivet
Jean Servais
L'ami de Jean (The voice of Guy de Maupassant)
Daniel Gélin
Jean
Simone Simon
Joséphine
Credits
Director
Max Ophuls
Based on three stories by
Guy de Maupassant
Adaptation by
Jacques Natanson
Adaptation by
Max Ophuls
Dialogue
Jacques Natanson
Music
Joe Hayos
Cinematography
Christian Matras
Cinematography
Philippe Agostini
Sets
Jean d'Eaubonne
Assistant director
Jean Valère
Assistant director
Tony Abboyantz
Costumes
Georges Annenkov
Editing
Léonide Azar

From The Current

The Ophuls Shot
The Ophuls Shot

The films of Max Ophuls, whose birthday we celebrate today, are luxuriously cinematic. His camera glides and tracks and cranes; we viewers swoon. But, as Molly Haskell has written, “the roving camera and the visual glissandos are never virtuoso flo…

/
Happy Birthday, Danielle Darrieux!
Happy Birthday, Danielle Darrieux!

The Le plaisir star is ninety-five.

/
Bill Hader’s Top 10

In compiling his top ten Criterion editions, Hader says, “I couldn’t pick ten . . . sorry. So I programmed Criterion double features, which is what I tend to do on Sunday nights anyway.”


Le plaisir: Life Is Movement

Max Ophuls acquired an enviable reputation both on-screen and behind the scenes. Most actors, male or female, loved him, and if technicians complained of the amount of work necessitated by his remarkably fluent and complex long takes involving track…

By Robin Wood


Explore

Jean Gabin

Actor

With his penetrating gaze, quiet strength, and unshakeable everyman persona, Jean Gabin was the most popular French matinee idol of the prewar period, and remains one of the great icons of cinema. Though his parents were cabaret performers, Gabin—born Jean-Alexis Moncorgé in 1904—put off show business at first, working instead as a laborer for a construction company. He eventually followed in his family’s footsteps, though, appearing onstage at various Paris music halls and theaters, including the Moulin Rouge. This led to roles in silent films, but it was with the advent of sound that Gabin found his true calling—even if his quiet stoicism was what he would become best known for. His work with director Julien Duvivier would prove his most important: they collaborated on two successful films in the midthirties (Maria Chapdelaine and La bandera), but it was their third, Pépé le moko, that, in creating the romantic criminal antihero archetype, shot Gabin into the stratosphere. As Michael Atkinson has written for Criterion, “Without its iconic precedent, there would have been no Humphrey Bogart, no John Garfield, no Robert Mitchum, no Randolph Scott, no Jean-Paul Belmondo (or Breathless or Pierrot le fou), no Jean-Pierre Melville or Alain Delon, no Steve McQueen . . .” Soon after Pépé, Renoir’s antiwar masterpiece Grand Illusion hit, and it was an even bigger smash, cementing Gabin’s superstar status; in this and all of his most successful roles (La bête humaine, Le jour se lève), Gabin played some form of working-class social outcast, and he always provided audiences with a strong point of identification. Following a brief, less successful stint in Hollywood and a period of fighting with the Allies in North Africa during World War II, Gabin saw his film career slow down, and he appeared mostly in supporting roles for a while (including in Ophuls’s Le plaisir). Jacques Becker’s 1954 heist thriller Touchez pas au grisbi was the comeback he needed, and it propelled him into a successful second act, which lasted until his death in 1976.