Ophuls’ tragic melodrama of when lovely woman stoops to folly remains as elegant today as it was on its release in 1934.
Beginning as a self-reflexive take on the burgeoning film industry of the period, we’re soon drawn into the backstory of Gabrielle Murge (later, as an actress, Doriot), and her journey from a choirgirl so beautiful she drives one of her teachers insane to further trouble as a high society lodger and doomed starlet.
Ophuls pushes and pulls protagonist Gabriella Murge around with all the perverse brutality of Hardy’s Tess, and the rest of the cast fare no better; later, Gabrielle’s landlord falls to an untimely death searching for her cheating husband, who has thrown himself at the protagonist and the prospect of a spring-autumn romance. The film’s not without it's comic moments however; "What is this trash magazine called?" asks one of Gabrielle’s entourage about the rag that has got the scoop on the star's chequered past. "La Verità [The truth]", comes the reply.