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A German Jew raised in the southern border town of Saarbrucken, Ophuls was a Frenchman at heart and crossed the border into France after the Reichstag fire in 1933; after the Nazis chased him out of there too, he lived in Hollywood, directing four American features (The Exile, Letter From an Unknown Woman, Caught, The Reckless Moment) before returning to France in 1950 to make some of his most celebrated movies (La Ronde, La Plaisir, The Earrings of Madame de..., Lola Montes).
La Signora di Tutti was his only Italian feature, and though it comes relatively early in his filmography, he was already recognized as an artist ("A Film by Max Ophuls" reads the opening credit) and his rhapsodic visual style, with its sinuous tracking shots and expressionistic montages, is already much in evidence. For fans of Ophuls's late masterpieces, however, La Signora may be most striking in how greatly it prefigures his final film, Lola Montes. Like that movie, it's the story of a legendary beauty (in this case an Italian matinee idol, played by Isa Miranda) whose life plays out in flashback (after she attempts suicide, her life flashes before her eyes as surgeons struggle to save her) and whose irresistible allure to men has proved to be a curse not only to them but to her.
Block Museum is on the Northwestern campus but can be a little hard to find, so here's a map. Tickets are $6; for more information call 847-491-4000.