Max Ophüls, (actually named Maximillian Oppenheimer) was a German born film director whose work expanded from Germany (1931-1933) to France (1933-1940 and 1950-1957) and The United States (1947-1950). He was born in 6th of May of 1902 in Saarbrucken of German Empire. He was the son of Leopold Oppenheimer, a Jewish textile manufacturer in Germany and his wife Helen. He took the name Ophüls, which is his pseudonym during the early part of his theatrical career so that his failure did not embarrass his family name.
He started his career as an stage actor in 1919.Theaters in which he worked initially includes Achen theater (1921-1923), city theater of Dortmund, Burgtheater in Vienna (1926) and Anatole Litvak at UFA in Berlin. At this time, he gradually discovered the world of movies and fiction films which led to the making his debut film “I'd Rather Have Cod Liver Oil (1931)”.During the Vienna days, he met actress Hilde Wall and married her in 1926.
The Earrings of Madame De (1953)
In 1933, Ophüls fled to France while the Nazi ascendancy were deporting the Jews of the country and took the French citizenship in 1938.He then moved to USA through travelling in Switzerland and Italy in 1941. His first Hollywood movie was “the Exile”, which starred the famous American actor Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. One of his latter films, “letter from an unknown woman” was much appreciated in America. Before coming back to France in 1950, he made his last American film “The reckless moment”.
He made “La Ronde” after coming back in France which won the BAFTA Award for Best Film in 1951.While living in France, he made some of his best work which included La Plaisi, Lola Mones etc. Max Ophulus died out of rheumatic heart disease on 26 March 1957 in Hamburg, while he was shooting for his film “the lovers of Montparnasse”. The unfinished movie was finished by his friend Jaques Becker.
Max Ophüls had created his own identity and style throughout his films by the time that he died. Most of his films like 'Liebelei, Letter from an unknown woman, Madame de' are narrated from the feminist point of view. Most of his films are known to feature female protagonists, which hinted that he was more biased towards the feminist school of thought.