The Reckless Moment Screen 7 articles

The Reckless Moment


The Reckless Moment Poster
  • This 1949 melodrama from Max Ophuls's postwar Hollywood period is usually overlooked in favor of the masterpieces he would realize upon returning to Europe (Lola Montes, The Earrings of Madame de . . . ). But it's one of the director's most perverse stories of doomed love. . . . Ophuls spins a network of fine irony out of the lurid material; Bennett is surprisingly effective as a typical Ophuls heroine, discovering a long-suppressed streak of masochism.

  • One of the many excellent films produced by Bennett's husband Walter Wanger, The Reckless Moment began life as a Jean Renoir project, and its story has soe of the feel of his late-30s work. In what may be his most underrated film, Ophuls concentrated on the sad, oddly romantic interaction between Mason and Bennett, and offered just as controlled and moving a vision of suppressed emotion as distinguished his European work, with a pitch-perfect rendering of southern California in the bargain.

  • Here's an opportunity to see the noir melodrama recently remade as The Deep End; to my mind this 1949 feature directed by Max Ophuls is a much better film in almost every respect. . . . Adapted by Henry Garson and R.W. Soderborg from Elizabeth Sanxay Holding's novel The Blank Wall, this 82-minute thriller gets wonderful performances from both leads and makes interesting use of certain elements—such as a black maid and a Christmas setting—discarded in the remake.

  • Like with Caught (1949) before it, Ophüls grants his characters an adult seriousness, the ability to consider themselves and their situation, which results in a far more mature melodrama, one very much thought out in emotional, psychological, and human terms, but never indulging in or exhibiting these angles as some wry explanation to it all.

  • Where ''It's A Wonderful Life'' shows family cohesion and community, all wrapped in a warm Christmas spirit, the tribe in ''The Reckless Moment'' is fractured. . . . At the end of the film, when Lucia hits bottom and finally breaks down, she is interrupted by a long-distance call from her husband. She holds the receiver, chokes back the tears and tells him: ''We're getting a blue Christmas tree this year. Everything is fine, except we miss you terribly.''

  • Despite the viewing circumstances [watching The Reckless Moment on a laptop], or perhaps precisely because of them, because of my actually being able to hold the movie in my hands and the changing and expanding exterior imagery outside my window, Ophuls’ last American film opened up to me in a way it hadn’t before and in turn revealed itself to be an object hermetically sealed. Not just a story, but a “histoire.”

  • In Max Ophüls’ The Reckless Moment (1949), time marks the compass of a thriller, while space gives architecture to a melodrama. But time and space, thriller and melodrama, do not advance independently, or in parallel: rather, it is the perfect imbrication of both these dimensions and genres that constitutes the film’s nucleus.

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