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A kind of anti-Les Miserables, this sophisticated period comedy inverts
conventional morality, following a thief/scoundrel as he rises to become
chief of police of Paris. This makes an ideal showcase for George Sanders
his peak of suavity, which he maintains even in a blond wig while posing
a portrait of St. George [this evolves into a theme of the film: "In all of
us there is a St. George and a dragon"]. Naturally, Sanders effortlessly
spins aphorisms: on adultery, he murmurs, "Sometimes the chains of
are so heavy they have to be carried by three".
Very much a production of displaced Europeans [Sirk, Shuftan, Eisler, Pressburger], the story celebrates a continental tolerance ["No man is a saint"]. Douglas Sirk clearly enjoys the subversive charm of the criminal mind which stays sharp by exploring all the possibilities for larceny. However, Sirk is not cruel: the provincial victims are not buffoons; they are just not sharp enough to see all the angles in each situation. He does not mock the cheerful dowager [Alma Kruger] who is eager for more adventurous company, and even the bumbling cuckold [Gene Lockhart] is ultimately touching when he disguises himself as a canary-merchant.
Like its contemporary, Renoir's DIARY OF A CHAMBERMAID, this sometimes seems like a European film trapped in Hollywood. However, while the first hour sometimes strains to be "naughty" [as in a decorous skinny-dipping scene], Sirk is able to unify the tone more successfully than Renoir. If Signe Hasso seems a bit old [at 30] as the wide-eyed ingenue, and Carole Landis struggles through her music hall number, Sirk guides both of them to satisfying moments, justifying their casting. The plot involving a garter made of rubies, a monkey called Satan, and a Chinese carousel with a giant Pekinese to ride -- develops increasingly clever and surprising twists, to a pleasing conclusion.
The movie is totally Sanders', and one of his finest--certainly one of his finest NON-supporting roles. BUT, it is also Landis's finest performance--her Flame Song is beautifully performed and foreshadows [sic--in both sense of the term]her final demise. See it for Sanders, who is always so worthwhile, but see it for Landis--at her peak
This film is excellent! I don't understand why anyone would call this the "nadir" of Sirk's career, as it is far more intelligent than any of Sirk's famous melodramas. While I enjoy those films, this remains my favorite Sirk picture. The story chronicles the misadventures of pretty rascal turned gentleman thief, Eugene Vidocq, played by the eternal screen cad George Sanders. This is one of Sanders' best caddish roles, as he sidles around chateaux and graveyards, uttering lines such as "sometimes the chains of marriage as so heavy they must be carried by three". In addition to the witty, frothy humour, there is a dark undercurrent to the film that is evidenced in its noirish photography and the amorality of the lead characters. High recommended to fans of Old Hollywood who enjoy the more eclectic films of that period!
"A Scandal in Paris" is a 1946 film starring George Sanders, Akim
Tamiroff, Signe Hasso, and Carole Landis. Directed by Douglas Sirk,
it's based on the memoirs of François-Eugène Vidocq, a thief who became
the Chief of Police in the 18th Century. The story begins with Francois
being born in a jail and covers his European escapades. At one point,
he poses for a painting of St. George and rides off on the horse he
sits on; later, a marquise's granddaughter (Hasso) falls in love with
the face in the painting and recognizes him when he comes to stay with
her grandmother...and steal her jewels.
A very witty script that is perfect for the elegant, handsome Sanders. This role seems tailor-made for him. The beautiful Carole Landis plays one of his victims, a showgirl with a valuable garter. Sadly, by this time, her career had really stalled out. She's still a bright and glamorous presence. Hasso is an odd choice for an ingénue role, though she does a good job.
Entertaining film, particularly because of George Sanders.
I was already a fan of George Sanders - but this film really gives him the witty language that he can spin under his breath better than any actor in movies. The story itself is far more interesting in its twists and turns than expected. Listen carefully - and you hear real style and imagination.
Have always wanted to view this film starring George Sanders,(Eugene Francois Vidocq) along with Signe Hasso,(Therese De Pierremont) and Carole Landis ( Loretta). This film had plenty of comedy, drama and romance going on with sexy Loretta who doesn't mess around with Eugene Vidocq except when she lets him take her garter off her leg in those horse draw carriages in France years and years ago. Gene Lockhart,(Police Chief Richet) who marries Loretta and becomes a jealous lover and follows her throughout the streets of Paris with bird cages on his back. Gene Lockhart gave a great supporting role and was the father of June Lockhart in the series, "Lassie". Akim Tamiroff, (Emile Vernet) was a buddy to Eugene Vidocq and was another great thief and professional con-man who would steal a bind man of his pencils. It was great seeing Carole Landis looking so sexy and beautiful and who took her own life in 1948. This is a great Classic film from 1946 and well worth your time to view. Enjoy !
How many "Vidocq" versions are there ? Probably more than you'd want to
see.The last one was released a couple of years ago (feat Depardieu)
and was a commercial and artistic flop.French versions galore are up
for grabs including a miniseries in the sixties.
This American version of the thief-turned -cop is a different matter cause it is probably as far as the real life character as it can be.George Sanders' suave portrayal is actually close to Arsene Lupin the French gentleman-burglar invented by Maurice Leblanc.After all Detlef Sierck (Douglas Sirk) was European .Aunt Ernestine is some kind of equivalent of Lupin's old nanny Victoire.The parallel with Saint George and the dragon is a good idea ,when a man has actually to fight against himself on the way to redemption.
The film is highly praised in Vidocq's native France:Jacques Lourcelles writes that ,"lost in Hollywood ,Sirk is at home again in an old tale of good old Europa.
I must confess I find "scandal in Paris" a bit cold and sometimes dull and I like Sirk best in his "Melodrames Flamboyants".
I wanted to see some George Sanders, and so I watched "A Scandal in
Paris", which I'd never seen. I found the movie pleasant, a good
diversion, quite witty and a good vehicle for the talents of Sanders.
Here are some further impressions.
First off I saw that it was an independent production by Arnold Pressburger. This was a good sign. He was a major independent producer who had a long career. His films may not be as high quality or well-known as those of Samuel Goldwyn, who was top notch, but they can be counted on as good quality. He pulled together a good cast here, headed by Sanders and including Akim Tamiroff, Carole Landis, Alan Napier, Gene Lockhart, Alma Kruger, Vladimir Sokoloff, Fritz Leiber, Pedro de Cordoba, Signe Hasso and Jo Ann Marlowe.
Tamiroff plays a crude cutthroat who teams up with Sanders for burglaries after they escape prison with help from Tamiroff's family of thieves, forgers, and crooks. Tamiroff provides some of the darker element in the film, needed to give it some life. Landis is the spirited wife of Lockhart, but she fancies Sanders. Landis provides some sparks too. Napier appears fairly briefly as a rich Marquis. His wife is Alma Kruger in an effective role as the Marquise who has jewels that become a target for Sanders and Tamiroff who insinuate themselves into their mansion. Hasso and Marlowe are the daughters of Napier and Kruger. Hasso attracts Sanders. Marlowe is first rate as a precocious younger sister. Hasso's part is fairly dull, as she is quiet and innocent for most of the picture. Lieber is in support as an artist who has used Sanders and Tamiroff as models, after which they stole a horse. The local priest is Pedro de Cordoba. Lockhart uses his comic talent to portray a frustrated police chief and husband.
Hollywood was simply awash with talent in these years and it shows in the cast. In the golden era of television, much of this talent went into TV dramas.
The movie uses sets and sound stages. They are well done and look nice, but their sound quality gives them away a few times and undermines the movie subtly when this happens. It's not a fatal defect by any means but it's noticeable sometimes. The best thing to do is get into the spirit of the play and forget about it, or even appreciate how well the sets look.
Sanders has many witty lines and also narration that he delivers in his customary smooth, cynical and sophisticated way. The story is quite well put together. It has some surprises.
Basically, "A Scandal in Paris" is a light comedy of wit, situations and manners, with some touches of farce. It was easy to take but it is not always "smooth". There are some places where it could have used more polishing or takes.
I came away thinking that Hollywood has to be given a lot of credit for its being able to produce films of this quality for mass consumption, even if they were not top notch. The average was still quite good. This is what made it world famous and why its films would go global. This is why we're seeing so many older films brought out on VHS tape and now DVD. There's still demand to see these movies.
George Sanders as Eugene Francois Vidocq, a clever French crook (and a
very flimsy representation of the amazing real-life template), is both
the lead actor and narrator of this film in which he neatly swindles
his way from a lowly prison cell to the top of French society
delivering a bounty of aphorisms along the way. The real-life Vidocq
began as a rough-and- tumble child criminal and ended up a government
Sanders basically delivers the same polished performance seen in numerous other films, from "Man Hunt" (1941), through "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (1945) and "All About Eve" (1950): the cool, cultivated, continental, dry wit with just the right suggestion of the animal beneath. Carole Landis, in what may be her finest role, is both funny and chilling as a self-centered show girl who blatantly uses her beauty to catch wealthy men. Signe Hasso (who looks distractingly like Margaret Sullavan) plays the daughter of the minister of police; she falls in love with Sanders but is as lifeless and damp here as she is vivacious and crackling in "The House on 92nd Street," made the year before.
The film is obviously 100% studio made, with painted backdrops to represent the French countryside. But since scenery is not the point here, this drawback can be overlooked. It's an unusual film about an extraordinary man, here reduced to a sort of Sherlock Holmes who strides both sides of the law.
This is a story about a real-life criminal turned private detective
character - Eugéne Vidocq set in C18th and C19th France. George
Sanders plays the character but unfortunately, things are rushed as we
skip forwards and Sanders sleepwalks through the film in a lacklustre
manner. We also mistakenly get two comedy characters who are given
significant roles Akim Tamiroff (Emile) as murderous sidekick and
loyal admirer of Sanders carrying out duties such as dressing his buddy
and generally admiring him, and former chief of police Gene Lockhart
who is inexcusably meant to lend yet more comedy to proceedings. Add to
that a completely wet fish love interest in the form of Signe Hasso
(Therese) and the film is not stacking up well.
The best in the cast by a mile is gold-digger showgirl Carole Landis (Loretta) and she boosts the watchability single-handedly. Unfortunately, she is not in the film long enough. Given there is quite a slight storyline to the film, her moments are all memorable whether it be her singing performance (the best moment of the film) or her dialogue delivery and acting gestures which provide the only moments of true comedy.
The makers of the film should have made this story more true to life and informed the audience more about this Vidocq character. I have no doubt it would have been a far more interesting story. He has a fantastic legacy and very engaging life story if you read up about him.
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