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Friday, December 30, 2011

Death Of A Scoundrel (1956)

After a wealthy financial genius (George Sanders) is found murdered, his rise and fall from a Czech emigre to ruthless businessman is recounted in flashback by the woman (Yvonne De Carlo) who knew him best. This very black comedy (though I'm not sure it was intended as such) is quite entertaining. No one was better at playing a cad than George Sanders and this is surely his ultimate cad role. Lying, swindling, stealing, blackmailing and climbing his way to the top on the backs of several women and relishing it every step of the way without a conscience. The film gets all pious toward the end with its sermonizing but the journey there is wicked fun. Written and directed by Charles Martin. The handsome B&W cinematography is by the great James Wong Howe (PICNIC) with a lazy, generic score by Max Steiner. The cast includes Zsa Zsa Gabor (the ex-Mrs. Sanders), Coleen Gray, Nancy Gates, Victor Jory, John Hoyt, Werner Klemperer, Tom Conway (Sanders' real life brother playing his brother), Lisa Ferraday, Celia Lovsky, John Sutton, Morris Ankrum and George Brent whose part has been eliminated to the point of being a background player.

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