Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Tonight I went to see Madame De... (1953, and known as the Earrings of Madame De... in the US),* screened in celebration of Janus Films,* a distributor which has, through the restoration and curation of important titles, raised the watermark of available film culture in the US (Criterion* is one of the company's DVD imprints). Madame De... takes place in the late nineteenth century and relates the maturation of a French comtesse, her honorable name struck elliptic in the literary trick of the times. Materialistic and insincere, the young Madame enjoys a meaningless marriage with breezy but charming General De.... It's an arrangement to their mutual benefit: he's provided with a young belle for the balls and she is lavished with the finery assumed due pretty social aristocracy. At the beginning of the movie, she is rummaging through her loot looking for something to pawn for quick cash: a diamond earring wedding present from her husband wouldn't be difficult to part with. When the jeweler--incidentally, the man who sold the earrings in the first place--seems uncertain, the Madame feigns the vapors to bully him into capitulation. He doesn't remain in possession of the earrings long: he contacts the General, who seems more amused than annoyed to repurchase the present. He proceeds to give the earrings to a mistress leaving for Turkey where she, in turn, loses them in a shocking display of ineptitude at the roulette table. They are later bought by an Italian diplomat soon to be posted to Paris where he'll chance to meet the young Madame De..., and fall in love. This is merely the beginning of this excellent film, another fable of manners basically amounting to a screwball drama. Recommended. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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