On Lola Montès

I watched Max Ophul’s 1955 masterpiece recently, when my brother was in town. He speaks French fluently, so it seemed like a good choice. Didn’t get very far into it, mainly because I was drinking and “fell asleep”. Not that it mattered that much, because it was pretty crappy; not the movie itself, which I’m sure is excellent in the original French (these subtitles are way off – bro) and in a decent video transfer, and somewhere close to the original 140 minutes originally intended.

Some of the parts I did see included some fairly trenchant portrayals of the perils of drinking, which made me feel kind of guilty. All this is to say … well, never on a school night. So I don’t have a problem.

If you want to read a few great comments, click on the title above for an IMDb review. But here are the highlights, with a few words added here and there by a very sober me:

The movie is about the life of Maria Dolores Elisa Regina Gilbert (an actual person, who lived from 1818 to 1861), who brought herself up from a poor childhood, through torrid passions with musicians, painters, revolutionaries and nobility (she was titled Countess of Lansfeld byLudwig I, King of Bavaria). And ended up as a circus act.

Gentlemen and boys over 16, come in now… You can see it all now, all that has not been ever seen in a circus show, inside the tent. It’s only one dollar… only one dollar… only one dollar… And the voice goes on and one, and the crowd gets thicker and thicker; men in black tie, and jobless chums, shoulder to shoulder for only one dollar; and the voice goes on, as the show must go on. Forever there must be more bright colors, blaring trumpets, funny animals, scandalous lives to expose. Was THAT the end?

Well, I didn’t make it to the end, so I can’t say, but piecing together what I did see and what I read here, it’s going to be great when the Criterion Collection finally gets to work on it.


  1. I like that euphamism “fell asleep” it has such a peaceful quality. Nothing sloppy or degrading. Not that you were in any way either of those things.

    It just made me smile that you thought to put the quotes around it. Am I reading more into them than you intended?

  2. Rufus McCain says

    He fell asleep “in the Lord.”

  3. Quin Finnegan says

    Thank you kindly, Angelmeg. No, you’re not reading too much into them – I am in fact a very dignified drunk (even when drinking 40s, as I was that night): given to quoting Shakespeare and Anselm and the like. Or watching French cinema from the 1950’s.

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