Suffering the ultimate indignation of being displayed at the circus like a freak, the notorious courtesan and dancer Lola Montes (Martine Carol) reflects on her life through a series of flashbacks. This was the final film of the great Max Ophuls and his only film in color, CinemaScope and stereophonic sound. Thematically, it fits right in with Ophuls' two other elegant films portraying women whose romantic passions lead them to dire consequences (LETTER FROM AN UNKNOWN WOMAN, EARRINGS OF MADAME DE...) forming a sort of trilogy. But while there have been attempts to declare LOLA MONTES as Ophuls' masterpiece (notably Andrew Sarris), it simply isn't as good as those two other films. The circus framing, while visually stunning, is awkward and inert and the film's languid pace often works against it. The casting of Martine Carol as Lola is also problematic, there's no life in her performance. This can work in the circus segment as she's clearly given up on life but the flashbacks are acted in the same way! And though only 35 when the film was made, she comes across as forty-ish and matronly. I couldn't help but wish that Ophuls had gotten Ava Gardner instead. Still, it is Max Ophuls and that's enough to demand attention. With Peter Ustinov, Oskar Werner, Anton Walbrook and Paulette Dubost.