It could happen to so many married women!
A mother attempts to protect her murderous daughter.
A mother attempts to protect her murderous daughter.
“The Reckless Moment” was director Max Ophüls’ last American film, and from its quality in comparison to his other output... he made it back to his safe European home just in time.
“Moment” is a partner piece to Ophüls’ other noir made-in-exile, “Caught.” Both feature actor James Mason (himself an American émigrée from Britain), and examine tainted aspects of the so-called American dream.
“Caught” focused on vampiric materialism, which sucked the soul of a young women nearly dry. “Moment” considers the essential Western ideal of children striving to live a better life than their parents, at any cost — usually to the parents themselves.
Ophüls’ twist on the idea of protective parenting is that it is a mother that goes…
Stylistically sharp, The Reckless Moment is possibly the most underrated entry in Max Ophüls' filmography. The German-born filmmaker successfully assigns distinctive qualities of film noir imagery and designs into a tautly claustrophobic drama. It was the last of four movies that he finished in the course of his Hollywood period in the nineteen forties, which additionally encompassed the magnificent Letter from an Unknown Woman.
It's a charming movie, albeit tainted with some slight weaknesses in some of its characterisation's. Still, its manipulation of silhouettes, extraordinary camera angles, and intense lighting entrusts the film with atmosphere and individuality. It paints an ominous and sarcastic portrait of American society where a determined woman is characterised by her mental suffering and eventually is overwhelmingly disappointed with the smothering limitations of her social environment.
A disappointing end to what has been an unexpectedly mixed bag of a run of noirs.
Perhaps the main problem with The Reckless Moment is that the reckless moment in question isn't actually all that reckless, and there is nothing else in this dull noir that would even come close to being classified as reckless.
James Mason only pops in once the film is half an hour long but even by this stage the film has rushed through the early stages of the main plot and his character isn't given nearly enough time to be properly characterised. As such, the often seen 1940s plot point of someone falling in love in next to no time is even more rushed and…
female centred noir >>>
Joan Bennett's young mother and house wife risks everything to save her teenage daughter from her lover and ends up getting blackmailed for her troubles.
The story is almost archetypically noir and is elevated by Ophuls, Mason and most especially Bennett into a movie that seems to want to take on class and conformity and the role of women and all sorts of stuff. It's not as flashy as Ophuls Belle Epoque stuff but it's still Ophuls, it is gorgeously put together and, in his final American film, he seems to have something he wants to get off his chest about post-war american society.
Ok James Mason being lectured on being too low class to ever have a chance in…
A mother tries to cover up her daughters accidental murder.
They gender switched the character roles and gave “the man of the house” to the momma and Joan Bennett literally carried the plot and film as a whole on her dang shoulders. Take away her performance then there’d be no reason to watch unfortunately. The film noir aspects are about as dry and tasteless as hard licorice. No scenes stuck out to me nor gave me that wow factor I was looking for, not even a fun silly twist. I can’t even remember the bad guy in this film. Nonetheless, no matter how dusty this film can be, Joan’s performance warrants a good enough watch, if you can handle the major flaws.
Prime Noir of the 1940's: Screening #1
Dedicated housewife Lucia Harper wants her young daughter Bea to stay away from the older man she's been seeing, but her efforts are in vain. One night, Bea comes home late, distraught over something she doesn't want to talk about. Lucia goes out and finds the dead body of the old man, and for her daughter's sake she decides to hide the corpse at the bottom of a lake. But when a mysterious man shows up with love letter between her daughter and the victim, all her worries come flooding back.
The Reckless Moment is fascinating to consider in relation to the noir figure of the femme fatale. The leading lady…
*puts a microphone extremely close to my mouth* why did they have James Mason attempt an Irish accent. he can’t do it
give it up for mothers y'all. joan bennett does a LOT in ophuls' final english-language film. her husband is away and so she's sorta left alone to raise their rebellious 17-year-old daughter, who is going out with a shady older guy... then she has to cover up a crime, is blackmailed, all while her pre-teen son is running around shirtless with a full six-pack talkin' like a middle-aged man smh.
Now that’s more a fitting and worthy named Noir movie, and from Max Ophüls of all people! Well, guys like Fritz Lang also spend more than half of his American time making what’s now considered B Noir classics, among other genres (now imagine Ophüls making a Western…huh), so it was only inevitable that in his short and limited run in U.S. soil, the other German giant would’ve done the same. But if back in his previous Caught, Ophüls just merely danced around with some of the tropes of the genre, intercalated between the woman’s tragedy melodrama, usual from his storytelling template; here, he goes into a full deep dive into a Noir dynamic.
The slight glimpses of the criminal underworld…
Ophüls in August, 2014
"Everyone has a mother like me. You probably had one, too." – Lucia Harper (Joan Bennett)
Ophüls's last Hollywood film packs a lot of subtext into 82 minutes of noir-tinged melodrama, and features a standout performance from Joan Bennett as Lucia Harper, a chain-smoking, cat's-eye glasses-wearing housewife, desperately trying to maintain the appearance of normalcy and propriety for her family while her husband is away on business. Her attempts at repressing her children's burgeoning adolescent sexuality have tragic consequences in the case of her daughter, but are almost played for laughs in the case of her son ("Just once, David, I'd like to see you fully clothed.").
Ophüls and Burnett Guffey (cinematographer on In a Lonely…
Sometimes great films go unappreciated in their initial releases. Critics give them poor reviews and audiences don’t go see them. The duty of insightful analysis and appreciation falls to future generations of audiences and critics. For instance, it wasn’t until the Cahiers du Cinéma generation that great filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock and Howard Hawks were thought of as such. In this essay, I would like to talk about two star-studded Hollywood movies - one from 1949 and one from 2006 - that were not received well initially, but should be considered masterpieces.
In 1941, director Max Ophüls arrived in the United States after having fled Nazi-occupied France (and after fleeing Germany in 1931 for fear of the ascendant Nazi party).…
A Sartrean James Mason (as delinquent Martin Donnelly): "Hell is other people..."
When film approaches a peculiar, rare poetry you have, for instance, Joan Bennett in an intense performance as the distressed mother of a teenaged girl involved with a gangster, and the romantic, exquisitely velvety-voiced James Mason as his partner in crime, both directed by Max Ophüls. Bennett and Mason cross paths after the former's daughter accidentally kills her lover, and the latter blackmails the lady until he falls for her. While the brilliant Bennett drives the psychological suspense to its proper emotional depiction, Mason's quasi-existential vulnerability matches his own Odd Man Out lyrical power from two years prior. Both extraordinary iconic actors complement each other in every sense, taking The Reckless Moment beyond the mere physical thrills of a genre (master)piece. Thus, the somber, virtually oblique style of storytelling favored by Ophüls finds its sublime humanity.
joan bennett could have been a girlboss but this movie was just too boring
Started off well with a realistic portrayal of family life and a strong female lead but became a bit too melodramatic for my liking.
Max Ophüls: James Mason, can you do an Irish accent?
James Mason: No, not really. Is it essential for the character?
Max: No, not really.
Max: …Give it your best shot, eh?
Max Opüls dips his hands into American film-noir with a brilliant slowburn drama, starring wonderful performances by Joan Bennett and James Mason.
Irish accent funny
James Mason is one of the most underrated actors of the Classical Hollywood era.
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Spoiler-Free Synopsis - Middle class matron deals with blackmail after concealing the accidental death of her daughter's disreputable beau. Lots of spoilers follow.
"he was better than I am - he had no illusions about himself”
In 1951 Raymond Chandler wrote to his English publisher lauding a little known author as "for my money…the top suspense writer of them all”. The writer was Elizabeth Sanxay Holding and the 3rd of the books Chandler named – The Blank Wall – has twice reached the screen. Jakubowski referred to her as an important precursor to Highsmith and Rendell and Hitchcock was also a fan, reprinting the story in its entirety in a 1959 anthology. Holding's acute psychological perception lends itself to a…
Yet another unusual film noir story in very many ways. It's a murder story but then it turns into blackmail with James Mason as a blackmailer with a heart of gold and it's all very quick-paced at a brief 82 minutes.
Unique about the film is the female focus that starts out on a mother/daughter relationship with an older guy in the mix who is a bad influence on the daughter but little by little it goes deep into the emotional world of Joan Bennett's lead character who is overwhelmed with all that is going on at her house while her husband's away overseas and, once the murder comes into play, it feels like a constant onslaught of anxiety hitting…
ophuls moderately in absentia to my eye (trust it if you like), which means he can’t pull as much out to rising tide the rest of the movie as he does on something like caught. the ending is sweeping but restrained by the perfunctory suspense of the main story— the yearning, one-sided, not-quite romance is more compelling than anything else but doesn’t hold the focus until those wonderful last five minutes.
Was reading something recently about Dreyer’s career long refining of his “anti-event construction”, arriving at that project through both the fragmentation of time and space at the beginning of his career and the antonymous abstraction thereof at the end. Here in the confines of America(n form), Ophuls employs something similar, with his careful choice(s) of when to cut, every last renegotiation, of the camera, of power, all the tools and the rhythms that follow and reverberate in counter-step: a system of withholding. Beginning in median res makes this process more literal—no beginning or ending. We just enter and enter, in every scene, with no exit (and perhaps thus "No Thing"). Amorphous long takes until a cut to a close up…
Noir and melodrama are a jarring combination. A mother covers for her daughter semi accidentally murdering her sleazy suitor. James Mason turns up with a dodgy Irish accent to blackmail her.
There are some lovely stylistic flourishes and the camera moves so smoothly following the cast, but it’s not evenly matched by a soapy script. Joan Bennett gives a good performance and it’s interesting to see the gender roles reversed as Mason plays a slobby femme fatale.
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