La Ronde (1950, Max Ophuls)

A theater adaptation that starts out stagey and effortlessly segues into movie form. The narrator shows up, walking around a carousel, tells us what’s going on, gives direction to one of the characters, and walks off into the set for the first scene, where the “movie” takes over… very nice. Then this guy keeps showing up comically in the other segments, reminding us of the structure of the movie, of the director/author’s presence, keeping things light and stagey whenever the scene threatens to take over. Of course we’ve got Ophuls’ camera roaming smoothly everywhere in long takes, nice photography and a whole bundle of good actors. I loved it. Much more “adult” than most movies, examines different facets of romantic relationships, one small scene at a time:

Prostitute & Franz The Soldier – he’s in a hurry but she picks him up and takes him under a bridge free of charge, for no apparent reason than the narrator told her to!

Franz The Soldier & Marie The Maid – still in a hurry, Franz manages to get Marie to leave a party and go walking with him. They do something or other on a park bench, but then he wants nothing to do with her after. She ends up fired from her job for staying out late, but the narrator assures her she’ll get a better one soon.

Marie The Maid & Young Alfred – the cutest segment… Marie and Al left alone in the house, trying to approach each other, successfully in the end.

Young Alfred & Married Emma – Al is renting his own bachelor pad these days and trying to be suave around Emma, who finally calms down and lets him.

Emma & Her Husband Charles – sitting up in bed talking about how completely unacceptable extra-marital affairs would be.

Charles & 19-yr-old Anna – Charles is suddenly the lech, running up the bill at a fancy restaurant to get Anna to go home (or to a hotel, I guess) with him.

Anna & Poet Robert – Robert is dreamy… too dreamy for the likes of Anna.

Robert & Actress Charlotte – Charlotte is too famous and dreamy for the likes of Robert.

Charlotte & The Count
The Count & The Prostitute – I start to forget the specifics towards the end of the movie, but gimme some credit, there was a lot going on.

The narrator is Anton Walbrook, a star of Life & Death of Colonel Blimp… prostitute Simone Signoret, a big star from a lotta movies I haven’t seen… soldier is Serge Reggiani, the contrary Don Francisco in The Leopard… the maid is Simone Simon, who I recognized from Cat People… Alfred is Daniel Gélin, who later worked with Hitchcock, Ruiz and Cocteau… Emma is Danielle Darrieux from 8 Women and Young Girls of Rochefort… her husband is Fernand Gravey… Anna is Odette Joyeux… poet is Jean-Louis Barrault, star of Children of Paradise… actress is Isa Miranda… aaaaand Count Gérard Philipe starred in Bunuel’s Fever Mounts at El Pao, released a month after he died.

Godard called it France’s worst film. I can’t figure that guy out.