Old-fashioned in its morals but offering up-to-date commentary on contemporary celebrity culture, Max Ophüls’ last film tells the tragic story of femme fatale Lola Montès (Martine Carol), lover to famous artists, aristocrats, and kings the world over. When we meet her at the end of her career, she has taken the humiliating role of reenacting her own life in a circus under the cracking whip of ringmaster Peter Ustinov. Directed with extraordinary grace, this is real eye candy, which makes it all the more troublesome that the DVD transfer is seriously lacking. If you ever have a chance to see this in a theater, don’t hesitate.

Lola Montès. Max Ophüls, 1955. ****