‘Reckless moment’ is a 1949 melodrama film directed by Austrian director Max Ophuls. The melodrama is a deep and emotional critique of the life of the middle-class American at the time of its action. Unlike many other melodramas, the film incorporates a good amount of content that is directly related to crime. The plot and narration of the film directly relate to and is essential in exposing the director’s point of view. This paper is an analysis of the film that focusses on expounding of the interaction between the film’s narration and Ophul’s point of view.
Like a typical narrative film, Max Ophuls’s ‘reckless moment’ bases its plot on a story. For this film, ‘the blank wall’ by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding. In other words, the narration of the film refers to its plot. The starring in the film is a middle-aged typical middle-class American mother in a Los Angeles suburb. She, Lucia, finds herself in a crisis while her husband is overseas for official duty. Her daughter, Bea, is involved in a love brawl that leaves her lover, Darby, dead. Darby’s accomplice, Donnelly, interferes with Lucia’s attempts to cover Bea’s crime as he owns incriminating love letters between that Bea sent to his criminal partner. He, thus, demands 5000 dollars to keep the letters secret. He, however, develops an intimate closeness to Lucia and discovers her plight in raising the cash; he allows her more time. Donnelly’s partner, Nagel, does not understand this. The two criminals fight when Nagel arrives at Lucia’s house to demand the money immediately; the fight leaves Nagel deal. Donnelly dies as he overturns his car while driving Nagel’s body away. Before his death, Donnelly hands Lucia the letters to signify the end of the matter.
The point of view of the fil refers to the message the director was communicating with their plot and settings. Like many other classical melodrama films, the director of the film bases his film on his view of the human body and, especially that of a woman. Ophuls’s also expresses his critique of the American middle-class life with this film.
The figure of an elegant and obviously beautiful woman, Lucia, forms a huge part of the plot of the film. Further, the woman’s beauty is also an important factor in the plot of the film. Like many classical films, Ophuls views a woman as a sexual object for man’s satisfaction. It is Lucia’s attractiveness that led to an intimate relationship between herself and Donnelly. Donnelly thus viewed Lucia as an object for his satisfaction and looked for a way to exploit her. Also, the brawl between Darby and Bea that left the man dead, emphasizes Ophuls’s view that the Darby saw Bea as an object which just had to give in to his demands. Furthermore, the plot of the film exposes the lowly position of the woman in society as it exposes Lucia’s difficulties while soliciting for a loan to pay the demands by Donnelly. Also, Lucia’s fear to upset her husband by telling her the truth exposes her as an object whose only purpose was to satisfy her husband and not to be his partner. Thus, the narration of the film is key to exposing the director’s point of view on the position of the woman in society.
Furthermore, the plot of the film exposes Ophuls’s dislike for the lifestyle of middle-class Americans. Ophuls uses his plot to expose his view that most of these Americans have more problems than they seem to have. Although they look smiley and have good fashion, they have numerous problems and stresses within their households. Also, Ophuls criticizes the overprotective nature of some mothers and exposes the dangers of this nature through the plot of the film. Furthermore, the director uses the narration of the film to register his critique for the institution of marriage and the nuclear family. In the film, marriage and family come up as players in a prison where Lucia is an inmate. Her family interfere’s with her freedom and her desire to love. Likewise, Ophuls strongly depends on the narration of the film’s storyline to register his critical point of view on the lifestyle of middle-class Americans and the family way.