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One of over 700 Paramount productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. However, because of legal complications, this particular title was not included in the original television package and was not televised until many years afterward. See more »
Because so many talented people worked on "The Scoundrel", it pains me to say that this film doesn't work and some parts of it are laughably bad.
Noël Coward plays a character based on Horace Liveright, a (real-life) New York publisher and playboy who was a vicious S.O.B. and an inept businessman; Liveright died broke and friendless. That's not quite what happens to Coward in this movie.
"The Scoundrel" is a fantasy, but we don't find this out until about halfway through the film ... and in a flashback, worse luck. Coward dies and comes back as a ghost, and (unlike in "The Sixth Sense") he KNOWS he's a ghost. After returning from the dead, the first thing he does is go back to his office and perform a long dull dialogue scene with his employees, without bothering to tell them that he's dead. I haven't given away any spoilers here, because this film has very little worth spoiling. Coward delivers all of his dialogue in a slow lugubrious tone. He spends the second half of the movie as a ghost, but he's equally lifeless in the first half.
"The Scoundrel" has a low budget and several continuity errors. It was filmed in New York City (at the Astoria studio) but there are no vintage shots of NYC locations; one street scene is a painfully obvious interior set.
The notorious drama critic Alexander Woollcott appears in a tiny role (basically playing himself), but he's on screen just long enough to prove he's no actor. Lionel Stander (better known as Max from "Hart to Hart") shows up briefly to sip champagne with Coward. This makes Lionel Stander the only actor who worked with both Noël Coward and Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle. I don't recommend "The Scoundrel" unless you're intensely interested in any of the actors or writers who worked on this film ... all of whom did better work in other films.
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