Lola Montes

France 1955. Dir Max Ophüls.

The last film by international director Max Ophüls presents the life of nineteenth-century scandalous courtesan Lola Montes as it might have been presented by a circus manager like P.T. Barnum. In breathtaking cinemascope and eye-popping color, spectacle competes with moments of tenderness and loss as Montes’ life is replayed as an acrobatic fashion show version of the remembrance of things past. Peter Ustinov gives a deadpan performance as the circus master whose zeal for profits may conceal a deeper passion, as he summons up flashbacks of Montes’s affairs with Franz List and the King of Bavaria.