A chocolate confection of a movie.
Set in Vienna circa 1900, based on a play by Viennese playwrite Arthur Schnitzler, it's a series of vignettes more about lust than love. The vignettes flow together by having one person appearing the the next -- generally being the seducer in one, the victim in the other.
As I understand it, Ophuls moderated the promiscuous tone of Schnitzler's play. There is definitely a sense of regret and loss over these random flings despite their inevitableness.
Still, the tone is somewhat light, at times almost flighty. There's a master of ceremonies (Anton Walbrook) holding the entire thing together, as well as a pretty melody by Oscar Stauss. There are even the daring intrusions of moviemaking -- a clapboard, a filmstrip with the sex scene being cut out -- and, one time, a hugely amusing bit of symbolism with the merry-go-round.
As with LE PLAISIR, many fine French actors appear. Sometimes, the same ones. Danielle Darrieux at her most beautiful. Simone Simon. Daniel Gélin. Jean-Louie Barrault (a little over-the-top). Simone Signoret. Gérard Philipe (a beautifully nuanced performance).
Similar to LE PLAISIR (Region 1)
-- but different. And about equal in quality and enjoyment.
The Criterion DVD extras include a film commentary, an informative presentation by writer Allan Williams, and informative interviews with Daniel Gélin (1989) and son of Max, Marcel Ophuls (2008).