Dagnabit, I’ve been Ophül’d again….recklessly.


Mesdames et monsieurs, this is the second blogathon of the new year and were heading all the way to France for it. Serendipitous Anachronisms is hosting her first-ever blogathon and were in the country of wine and cheese and all things French. Please, click on the banner and peruse all the entries that are spread out over the next two days. I will tackle one of the great romantic dramas of classic film.

I enjoy “THE EARRINGS OF MADAME DE” This ironic tale with Max Ophüls’ famed camera work sweeps me up in a tide of emotion that carries me through this sad love story. A little white lie metastasizes into love…into a love triangle. I’ve seen love triangles before. We all have. But I can’t remember ever feeling sorry for all three points of the triangle. Someone is usually the villain. Danielle Darrieux, Charles Boyer and Vittorio De Sica perfectly depict the role of Wife, Husband and Lover. And earrings will be Madame de…’s downfall.

Are you up for taking a journey with me through the busy dizzying love-soaked world of Max Ophüls? I hope you are. It will be a little lengthy. Read me on your ride to work, waiting for your doctor’s appointment, noshing in your favorite little coffee shop. I hope to help you enjoy the ride. There will be spoilers.


“I answered all your letters, my love. But I never had the courage to mail my replies.” Madame de…


Max Ophüls, I must love you for allowing myself to be entombed cocooned in the world of the Baroque; the frou frou world of fussbudgetry filled with ornate surroundings and bustles, top hats and horse & carriages. Its so not my thing, so I had to make sure I settled my mind quick with that, b’cuz I was going to spend some time in that world. Ophüls shows us a life teeming with the hustle and bustle of activity of maids and butlers scurrying amidst the high society set. It looked like a cast of millions with the activity of a Grand Central Station’s five o’clock quittin’ time. There are fancy dress balls, government settings, railway stations and military field work with lots of folks milling about, engulfing these three tragic people.



DANIELLE DARRIEUX ~ As The Wife, Madame Louise de… . She’s kind of like a Gallic Scarlet O’Hara. Not that she has much of Scarlett’s strength and fortitude, but she does fiddle dee dee her way through life. Madame de… is the belle of the ball. All the men swoon over her. All the men want her. She’s got closets and drawers of things; oodles and oodles of furs and jewelry and…things. Zomeone has been taking very good care of zee Madame. She’s vacuous, walks through life like a zombie. Is she even aware she is flirting? Poor gal’s not even really in touch with her own feelings. She thinks in the moment. And in this moment…she must pawn some earrings to get some cash. In another moment, she’ll fall in love.


CHARLES BOYER ~ As General Andre de… – The Husband. I must admit, I’m still a little gun-shy when it comes to Boyer, what with the way he treated Ingrid Bergman in “Gaslight” but I can hear you all loudly say: “Get over yourself, M’Ava! Chill out.” Alright, alright…I’ll let that go. (Sheesh!) Guess he got his romantic street cred back with “History Is Made At Night.” When the General’s told her earrings are missing, his search for them at the concert hall made me increasingly uncomfortable. Ophüls takes a good five minutes of screen time to follow him searching for these baubles. Five-minutes is a long time. Just think about Hitchcock having us watch Norman Bates clean up that motel bathroom his mother went berserk in. So the length of time we spend watching the General was uncomfortable. Not only was I fearful that Madame de… would be caught in a lie, but I felt the General was the possessive/obsessive-type. The diligence and detail of his search brought to mind Inspector Javert in “Les Miserables” or Lt. Gerard in “The Fugitive.” He does not give up until he finds what he wants. It’s not till later we see how devoted and in love he is with her.


VITTORIO DE SICA ~ As diplomat Baron Donati – The Lover. He is so elegant, so dashing, so handsome…so courtly. I must correct myself. I earlier wrote that it took one moment for Madame de…to fall in love. Thats not quite right. ‘Twas The Baron who falls instantly when he sees her at the railway station’s Customs Section. I think Madame de…is merely intrigued by his attention at that point. Attention was her “key light.” Fate went the Baron’s way, when their carriage wheels entangle. They meet yet again at a ball and here is where love begins in earnest.

Strange as this may sound, I think we are seeing three people helpless in what they feel.

<  Page  2  >

* * * * * * *

25 thoughts on “THE EARRINGS OF MADAME DE… ( 1953 )

  1. Just brilliant, T! This is by far my favorite Ophuls film. To even attempt a review of its intricacies is a brave thing, but you’ve done the movie justice. Thanks for posting about it, and even better, GETTING it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Wendy ~ thank you for braving the Couch and reading my thoughts on Maxie boy. I know it was an eyeful to read. ( Whew!! ) We’ve rambled about him over at our old ‘stomping grounds’ and you’re most likely one of the “ramblers” that got me to pay attention to this movie in the first place. Then you guys introduced me to Tag Gallagher who showed us there’s more to movies than meets the eye, and I was a goner for “Madame de…”


  2. Great review of the film. I have a real soft spot for this one, as I took my wife to see it at a rep theatre (despite 60 year old French movies not really being her wheelhouse) and she adored it, swooning away at the Madame’s passion. We recently watched it again in preparation for the Criterion Blogathon and she discovered she had remembered an entirely different ending! Oh well…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: The France on Film Blogathon is here, FINALLY!!!! | Serendipitous Anachronisms

  4. Pingback: The France on Film Blogathon is here, FINALLY!!!! | Serendipitous Anachronisms

    • THANK YOU RUTH! Whew! You’ve swollen my head so much I don’t know what to do now. But my Momma didn’t raise no chickens so I’ll just say again, Thank You! Guess I can’t take full credit. Max Ophüls gave me sooooo much to work with. I feel a little sheepish about the length of this essay ( Egads! Three pages. ) But I really wanted to do the movie justice. I hope you did get a chance to watch “The Earrings of Madame de…” and hopefully you’ll weigh in with your own thoughts about it here, or on your own blog at Silver Screenings. Thank you for reading!

      And folks, our beloved Lucy ( Lucille Ball ) gets ‘frenched’ by Silver Screenings in her contribution to the France On France blogathon. Uh…wait a second, let me re-phrase that.

      Please go to Silver Screenings’ blog and read her contribution to the France On France Blogathon with her essay on “DuBarry Was A Lady.” Whew!! Clean up on Aisle 5!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sorry, I did not comment sooner, I am catching up slowly. This is truly a lovely article it reminded me of a great play it hit many emotional notes simultaneously being hysterical and moving. Thank you for such a lovely addition to the France on Film Blogathon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’ve just hosted a blogathon with a myriad of bloggers…I should say it would be slow-going with you diligently trying to read all the entries. Thank you for your kind words on my contribution to your very first blogathon. If I’m going to play with the smart kids…I’ve just got to step up my game, which I hopefully did with my wacky piece for you. This is truly an amazing movie and while it’s not one I just put on to pass the time, when I do see it…I’m taken on a dizzying roller coaster ride thanks to the great Max Ophüls. Thank you again, Summer, for including my blog in your event.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Day One #France On Film Recap | Serendipitous Anachronisms

  7. Amazing review CineMaven, I can’t wait to watch this! Based on the stills you selected it looks so glittering and dazzling, but I love the idea that there’s so much emotion underneath that. Too often films that look good don’t move me, but this seems like exactly the opposite.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there Miss V.!! 🙂 Thanks so much for reading my rather lengthy musings on this fantastic film by Ophüls. If I’m amazing ( Heh Heh! ) it’s only because Ophüls gave us an amazing story of love, death and the whole damn thing. I would love to hear from you about what you think of “The Earrings of Madame de…”. I hope I haven’t hyped it up too much and I made a concerted effort not to give anything away. See it. Come back and tell me about it. Thanks for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Marsha, thank you. Thank you so much for the ego-boosting compliment and confidence builder. Thank you! I owe this post to Max Ophüls; he does a blogger good!! Such a rich, good movie. ( Hey Marsha…why don’t you join my blogathon? There’s room. )


  8. This sounds like a fascinating film. A romantic film has to be amazing for me to go for it, and this one sounds like it fits the bill. Your own affection for this film came through, so I want to hunt it down and watch it. It also sounds beautiful simply to see.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey there Tracey! “The Earrings of Madame de…” is a fascinating film. It’s one I didn’t think I would like because it’s very frou-frou. By that I mean lots of costuming and bustles and frilly frou-frou stuff. ( Not my “go-to” genre for me. ) But it is captivating and dizzying and heartbreaking. Look, I don’t want to hype it up any more than I have. But I hope you find it, see it, and let us know what you think. Thanks for reading…and hey, that was a nice ( personal ) job you did with your write-up on “An Affair To Remember” over at your blog! And if your husband is as romantic as Cary Grant, how do you even let him out of the house?!!!

      Can’t wait to share your post on the Dynamic Duo of Cary Grant ( again ) and Howard Hawks for my own blogathon on the 23rd. ( Stay tuned for my very own “promotional campaign.” L0L! ) Cary Grant—>(( Sigh! ))<—Can anyone go wrong working with THAT guy?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks! Isn’t it interesting: “The Earring of Madame de…” wasn’t your go-to, and “District B13” wasn’t mine, but we both found something we truly enjoyed outside our usual comfort zones for the France on Film Blogathon. I wonder if it’s the fact that American films have a tendency to be one-dimensional. I mean, I can’t think of many US action pictures that had much besides lots of explosions going for them. And don’t so many American dramas tend to somehow go “too far” without anything to balance out any frou-frou elements? I’m looking forward to watching “Earrings”; don’t fear the hype! It’s not coming through as hype just enthusiasm.

        My Carl is quite the Cary Grant! He brought me lunch at work today. (He’s one of the last of a dying breed, I fear.)

        Liked by 1 person

      • I agree with your about one-dimensionality.This sort of is what disappointed me about the recent “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Yes, please have the special effects with some really top-notch writing. Too much to ask? I’m afraid so. Now…your husband brought you lunch at work today. Tell me, does he have a brother?! ( And does he like classic films? )

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Thinking of Boyer on the day he passed away ( 8/26/ 1978 ) … One of my favorite lines in “Earrings…” is this one:

    “You know Louise, I’ve never particularly liked the role you gave me to play. But I played along to avoid displeasing you. It’s not what I would have chosen.”


    • I LOVE that line!! That scene is sooo sad. At the start of the movie, you hate Boyer… a serial philanderer, a pompous military man who treats his wife like a child…in complete control of everything. Then somehow, the movie winds you around through the plot, until you are staring at a complete mirror image of him – how hurt and human he is.

      Each in the triangle have selfish qualities, and yet, through the course of events, they all become something that they never were before. Both General Andre and Madame de… become more sympathetic, in fact, deeply sympathetic, and Baron Donati, who seems the kindest of the characters, becomes less so. They all turn out to be just ….. people. Like you and me, but in a most beautiful and romantic movie setting. Movies aren’t supposed to be like this. Not in the fifties!

      When I first saw The Earrings, I was blown away by its circularity, the kind only Ophuls can create. The plot is serpentine, folding in on itself with amazing coincidences, and yet it is completely believable. The coincidences are cosmic, karmic, fate filled happenings. If one small lie had not been told, if one moments’ action had been put off, their whole lives would have been different.

      Contrarian Ophuls made a movie about the lack of love keeping a marriage happy, and inversely, the injection of love into the main characters lives destroying EVERYTHING. What a rebel Ophuls was! More so than many of the directors who are known for their rebellious natures. He took every Hollywood trope and pulled it inside out and backwards. And as far as I’m concerned, only Boyer and Walbrook were fully able to realize Ophuls’ complexity fully.


Please leave a comment ( No Anonymous Replies Accepted )

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.