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May 26, 2023

There's No Tomorrow


Sans lendemain
Max Ophuls - 1939
Kino Classics BD Region A

This may be my own idiosyncratic reading of the end of There's No Tomorrow, but it seems to anticipate the closing montage of Michelangelo Antonioni's L'Eclisse. Evelyn, a Parisian showgirl, is distressed following the departure of her young son who has gone to Canada with her former lover. Henri, the comic at the cabaret where they work, takes Evelyn out for drinks at a bistro. While Henri is making a phone call, Evelyn leaves. Ophuls repeats three similar shots, the abandoned table in the bistro, a telephone left off the hook, and an empty street. I am unaware if Antonioni had ever seen Ophuls film, and taken the same visual idea, but extended and abstract, for his own way of saying there was no tomorrow for Alain Delon and Monica Vitti.

Ophuls' film was made during his French period, from 1935 through 1940. There are some of the same elements of other films, although Evelyn's professional life places her in margins of Lola Montes or Gaby, the movie star of La signora di tutti. Evelyn's closest contemporary equivalent would be one of the women who work in a "gentleman's club", providing companionship long enough to last several bottles of champagne. Evelyn accidentally is reunited with Georges, a doctor she had last seen ten previously when she lived in Montreal. The attempt to hide her currently reality from Georges, presented as just a rung above prostitution, beginning with renting a second, expensive apartment, begins a cycle of events that get further out of control. Caught could well be the title of several Ophuls films, with several of his female protagonists in above their heads following a lie.

There's No Tomorrow has a different visual style. There are some signature traveling shots that Ophuls is known for. But with cinematographer Eugen Schufttan, Ophuls begins his films with a sequence, the interior of the nightclub, La Sirene, with shots of the dancers on stage, and off-stage in their dressing room following a sequence of shots of patrons dancing to the house band. That sequence is the most stylized part of the film. While the job of the sirens at La Sirene is to catch customers, the sequence of dressing room shots is viewed through a net, with the showgirls equally trapped. This is followed by shots of the club's comic filmed with part of a superimposed net on the right side of the screen. Caught indeed. It may be just as well that There's No Tomorrow was never imported to the United States at the time of release as it would have been partially shredded because of nudity and narrative elements that were more in common with pre-Code Hollywood films.

Film scholar Adrian Martin provides the commentary track which primarily discusses how There's No Tomorrow fits in thematically with Ophuls other films. One of the interesting points is the casting of Edwige Feuillere, comparing her to Lola Montes star Martine Carol, another actress not taken seriously until working with Ophuls. Martin also discusses that while Stanley Kubrick has noted how his visual style has been influenced by Max Ophuls, any similarities may be overstated. The blu-ray has been sourced from a restored print and appears virtually flawless.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at May 26, 2023 05:14 AM