It could happen to so many married women!
A mother attempts to protect her murderous daughter.
A mother attempts to protect her murderous daughter.
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 = god tier 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
When the cat's away, the mice will get involved in a noirish web of shady relationships based on love and leverage when their daughter commits manslaughter. A little bit Mildred Pierce, a little bit The Earrings of Madame De..., Ophuls goes out of Hollywood with a bang. Joan Bennett has a bit of a grown-up Barbara Bel Geddes look as the mother, but James Mason is so sensitive here he completely steals the spotlight.
Where Caught focuses on a young woman's options, The Reckless Moment is rooted in domesticity. The way the camera flies through the Harper home is spellbinding--seriously, it's distracting to think about how those shots are set up--and Ophuls remains a master of size, space, and movement.…
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).…
As we’re all preoccupied about making better films dealing with womanhood and creating compelling lead female roles, perhaps a remake of The Reckless Moment is worth consideration? Although, and I realise this sounds a bit snooty, Max Ophuls’ treatment of the subject here is probably a little too subtle to appeal to the Hollywood of today.
The Reckless Moment is a very effective and gripping classic film noir. I had to have to have it pointed out to me that it happens to be a film noir which inverts the standard character tropes (like I said, it’s subtle, OK?) So what we get is a compromised protagonist negotiating a knife’s edge of peril, never in control of the situation –…
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.
Quite a bit better than I remembered. Mason and Bennett are both really strong which helps in selling the central (non)romance, despite its unlikeliness.
Ophuls, tracking, stairways, etc. etc. Everyone's heard it before, but I do like the way the bustle of the house and the town, and even hotels and drugstores is captured by the tracking shots here. Like the performances, it adds a weight and texture that the story lacks.
A study in the mise en scene of domestic suburban spaces through windows, doorways, and staircases. Every movement (of the camera, characters, or the story) manifests itself in terms of an ongoing power negotiation between the public and the private, the illicit and the lawful, the interior and the exterior, the family and the society, or the absent and the present.
Wonderful little noir starring James Mason and Joan Bennett. The relationship twists are handled very well, and it moves along handily, leading to a genuinely satisfying ending.
Max Ophüls' last American film is a patient, mature noir drama about the nature of secrets that simmer beneath quite, white suburban life. His famed buttery smooth camera movements are very satisfying to witness. Also, seeing a strong female lead in a '40s Hollywood noir who isn't at any point slapped, punched, clocked or dealt any kind of physical assault by a male protagonist to put her in her place is refreshing to see.
irritação anacrônica: que Ophüls, chegando ao auge da sua carreira, tenha precisado filmar um roteiro noir tão medíocre
Dear Ophüls, dear writers, dear Joan Bennett, dear Frances E. Williams, dear James Mason's voice: thank you, thank you.
The few films that Max Ophüls directed in the Hollywood system are fascinating half-made things. And yet, in the competing interests of Ophüls and the Hollywood system, something unique and rewarding was made.
Maybe 15 minutes or so into The Reckless Moment elements of the plot started to seem awfully familiar to me. I looked it up and, sure enough, the film The Deep End is a loose remake, and I saw it in theaters sometime around when it came out in 2001.
I bring this up because this film stars Joan Bennett, and her character is played by Tilda Swinton in the remake. Bennett would be best known to horror fans for her final role as Madam Blanc in Dario Argrnto's Suspiria, a character that was played in Luca Guadagnino's remake by... Tilda Swinton. I have no idea what this means, if anything, but there it is.
Anyway, this is a lovely looking and well-performed, if uneventful, little thriller that will scratch the noir itch if you've got it.
Premier Ophuls période Hollywood que je vois. J’ai cherché sa griffe au début, croyant qu’elle avait été noyée dans le carcan des studios, mais bien que je n’ai pas retrouvé l’ambition des chefs d’œuvre de la période de son retour en France, j’ai reconnu son souffle.
Un de ces précieux croisements entre mélodrame et film noir (le mètre étalon du sous-genre étant le fabuleux Leave Her To Heaven) The Reckless Moment est tout en mouvement. Ophuls n’interrompt que très rarement son ballet —de déplacements de point de vue, de corps, de vent, de vagues— dans lequel se meut une Joan Bennett déterminée comme un taureau en furie qui saigne du nez.
Really fast paced and fun watch. Joan Bennet bobs and weaves brilliantly between homemaker mom, getting her household ready for the Christmas holiday, and cover up mom, by protecting her daughter by covering up a murder. Serious Mildred Pierce vibes, but probably more intense. Where Mildred Pierce so more slow and meticulous, The Reckless Moment moves at break neck speed. Again, Joan Bennet outshines everyone, but the character played by James Mason is an interesting character study. A blackmail crook, who during the holiday season meets this exceptionally dedicated woman and mother. As a result of their meeting, he begins to question his entire existence to that point and the choices he’s made along the way. There’s a lot packed into the short runtime. Christmas noir is the best.
Somebody call up Eddie Muller. I'm introducing a new noir subgenre: Mom Noir.
That David kid sucks, and that voice was like nails on a chalkboard. No wonder he only has three acting credits.
Joan Bennett is fantastic as always, but in that final scene...wow!
James Mason gives a powerhouse performance. His "Irish" accent falters badly, but he gives this role a level of emotional heft that I frankly didn't think he was capable of.
Catch it on YouTube.
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