Sans lendemain. 1939. France. Directed by Max Ophüls. Screenplay by Hans Wilhelm, Jean Jacot, André-Paul Antoine. With Edwige Feuillère, George Rigaud, Daniel Lecourtois. 82 min.
For Jean Cocteau, who directed her in L’Aigle à deux têtes, Edwige Feullère incarnated “the queen of snow, blood, voluptuousness and death.” In this Ophüls masterpiece, Feullère is a “fallen woman”—once respectable but now forced to dance nude in a Montmartre bar to support her young son—who rents an expensive furnished apartment to convince a long-ago lover (Georges Rigaud) that her life has been a happy one. More perhaps than any prewar Ophüls film, Sans lendemain anticipates his 1955 classic Lola Montès; both films feature a heroine who exposes her body while concealing her soul, trapped in a glamourous environment that is revealed as little more than a cage.