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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Private Affairs Of Bel Ami (1947)

An opportunistic scheming womanizer (George Sanders) in 1880 Paris uses a series of women as a stepping stone from a clerk to a titled Count. The director Albert Lewin had a great success previously with his film of Oscar Wilde's PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY (1945), a film about another amoral scoundrel.  This time he tackles the novel by Guy de Maupassant with mixed results. This being 1947, it was cleaned up considerably and saddled with a horrendously sanctimonious ending. No one plays a cad better than George Sanders who sails effortlessly through the film but is there anything more unappealing than masochistic women groveling and pining over a man who mistreats them and beg for more? Unfortunately, there are several of them in this film. It renders an appealing actress like Angela Lansbury unappealing. The story is compelling enough for awhile but eventually it becomes tedious and you just wait for our "hero" to either redeem himself or get what he deserves. Nicely shot by the great Russell Metty and a good score by the modernist composer Darius Milhaud. Remade and better made in 2012. The large cast includes Ann Dvorak, Frances Dee (the only woman able to resist Sanders), Warren William, John Carradine, Marie Wilson, Albert Basserman, Katherine Emery, Susan Douglas and Hugo Haas. 

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