Eliza Gilbert, Countess of Landsfeld, better known under her stage name of Lola Montes, or Montez, was a 19th century Irish dancer and courtesan whose adventures spanned Asia, Europe, America and Australia. She had little talent for dance, but a great deal for scandal and self-publicity. She may be most famous for becoming the mistress of King Louis I of Bavaria. Their liaison was one of the causes of the 1848 Bavarian revolution and led to the King’s abdication. After that episode, her career as a high-flying courtesan came to an end, though she launched many other ventures. She did not, as in the film, end in a circus show, though the truth is hardly more glamorous: she suffered a crippling stroke and died of pneumonia in a New York boarding-house at the age of 40.
The film opens with Lola as the “star” of the circus act that presents her life as a series of live tableaux. Her beauty, intact under her tawdry make-up, has become the stuff of freak shows. The dramatic tension rests on how she gets there. We never see her physically growing up or aging. Lola, whether a teenager or reaching the end of her short life, retains throughout the film the 35-year old face of the sex symbol of 1950s French cinema, Martine Carol.
More about the infamous Lola, HERE.