Nothing has captivated audiences from the advent of ‘talkies’ quite like great romantic drama. Whether it’s Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, Dr Zhivago or Brief Encounter, there’s something exhilarated in being swept-up in the moment. Director Max Ophüls was a fan of romance too (as many of his actresses would attest). He made several films about love over his career but by far and away his best is Madame de….
Louise (Danielle Darrieux) is a beautiful young countess, married to the older General André (Charles Boyer). Finding herself in financial straits, she secretly sells a pair of diamond earrings given to her by a husband as a marriage gift. This starts a chain of events involving André’s mistress (Lia Di Leo) and a the charming Baron Fabrizio Donati (Vittorio De Sica), who falls under Louise’s spell whilst on a diplomatic posting in Paris.
Madame de…. is a great love story in the grand tradition. Opulence and exuberance are the order of the day. Whilst Ophüls’ camera sweeps around the elaborate sets, the cast shimmer and dazzle on screen. Louise’s crime is not one of adultery. It is one of dishonour. She’s broken the unspoken code between them and fallen in love, causing him embarrassment. Madame de…. is a luxurious love story. A tragedy of love and honour.
Madame de…. is released on Dual Format Blu-ray and DVD by the BFI on Monday 22 May.