1949, TSPDT Rank #800
The Reckless Moment is a very unique and fascinating film noir by the great Max Ophuls, with one of my favourite actors, James Mason, in a fantastic and extremely multi-faceted role. It's too bad that more people don't have access to Ophul's Hollywood films, which are actually much less circulated than his European films (which have mostly been released by Criterion). This is a real gem of a film, especially for the film noir fan - which I don't want to assume that everyone who reads this blog is, but given that I am, it should be taken into account that I'm biased. It's a cross between film noir and melodrama (Ophul's specialty), but in the case of this film, unlike his earlier film with Mason, Caught, the noir element is more pronounced than the melodrama. Nevertheless, the melodramatic aspect gives the familiar basic plot outline of the "accidental murder" and failure of the following cover-up a very different taste than you might be used to. And of course Ophuls mixes all of these elements up into a film which doesn't really resemble any other, except possibly some of his own - given the trademark ever-moving but graceful camera, and the cool, understated, yet visually rich way of handling the tension. Max Ophuls certainly was a master, with a unique and engrossing style which has been imitated often by some of the best both past and present (Kubrick and PT Anderson to name just two), but never quite matched. More on Ophuls will be on the way, as I have some of his biggest European films to get to yet in the near future. But for the time being, I highly recommend The Reckless Moment, and promise more on this great director soon to come.