Maximillian Oppenheimer, born into a German-Jewish family, took the pseudonym Max Ophüls for his work in the theater to avoid embarrassing his parents if he failed. He began his career as a stage actor and director in the 1920s, and worked in Stuttgart, Vienna, Frankfurt, and Berlin until forced to flee by the Nazis; in France (1933–40), the USA (1947–50), and in France again (1950–57). He also worked in the Netherlands and Italy for about eight years. Ophüls began his film career as an assistant director for Anatole Litvak and directed his first movie (Dann schon lieber Lebertran, in 1931. He made nearly 30 films, those from the later years being especially noteworthy, including La Ronde (1950), Le Plaisir (1952), The Earrings of Madame de... (1953) and Lola Montès (1955). His son Marcel Ophüls became a documentary-film maker best-known for The Sorrow and the Pity.