A classic "round" of vignettes, each about love, each vignette blending into the next by means of a single character, like passing a baton in a foot race, until we're back at the beginning again. It begins with a young prostitute (played by Simone Signoret) meeting a soldier (Serge Reggiani) and ends, after about six vignettes, with a different soldier (Gerard Philipe) paying a visit to Signoret. All of it is held together by a raconteur, played superbly with just the right amount of sardonic wit by Anton Walbrook, who steals the picture.
Max Ophuls's production is very stylized, with rococo turn-of-the-century sets. It's light and witty, but insightful, too, with the emphasis on the fleeting aspects of love and the vanity and double standards held to by the male of the species. The movie has everything going for it: a brilliant idea, a wonderful script, great acting, and terrific camerawork. Movie-making at its finest. [It was banned in America for four years on obscenity charges: the women enjoy their illicit love affairs a little too much for the censors' tastes at the time. Finally they came to their senses - the censors, I mean.]