Madame de... (The Earrings of Madame de…). 1953. France. Directed by Max Ophüls. Screenplay by Max Ophüls, Marcel Achard, Annette Wademant, based on a novel by Louise de Vilmorin. With Charles Boyer, Danielle Darrieux, Vittorio De Sica. 105 min.
Ophüls’s sublime romantic tragedy begins with a superficial aristocratic woman (Darrieux, in a fearless performance) pawning a pair of earrings given to her by her doting husband (Boyer), a thoughtless act that sets off a chain of events leading to a fatal confrontation between her husband and her lover (De Sica). Ophüls’s magisterial mise-en-scène elevates a series of sordid affairs and aristocratic indulgences into a timeless tale of love and loss. Considered by the critic Andrew Sarris as the greatest film ever made, The Earrings of Madame de… represents Ophüls’s formal genius at its expressive height.