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Writer Georges Duroy (George Sanders) is one social-climbing S.O.B. who does most of his climbing over the warm (and cold) bodies of women. He begins with Rachel (Marie Wilson), a hanger-on in the cafes and Folies Bergere crowd, and then moves on to dally with Clotilde de Morelle (Angela Lansbury.) Always striving to move upward on the social scale, he ditches her to marry Madeleine Forestier (Ann Dvorak). Now he gets on the fast track. He persuades Madame Walter (Katherine Emery), the wife of his publisher, to fall in love with him, and then compromises Madeleine to frame a divorce, so he can pursue Madame Walter's daughter, Suzanne (Susan Douglas, before somebody decided her later-married name was her most-often used screen name.) He moves along so well that ere long he is in legal position to usurp the title of one of France's most noble houses. The moral, at the end, is it is okay to mess with French women, but triffling with French titles is going too far. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
The Private Affairs of Bel Ami gave George Sanders to play a leading role as Guy de Maupassant's gentleman cad who rises in Parisian society over the bodies of a number of seduced and abandoned women. Sanders is a former dragoon who uses his charm to acquire money and power and in the end a title of minor nobility in Third Republic France. The one woman whom he truly loves, Angela Lansbury, is forever lost to him. Would she have brought him real happiness? It's for the audience to judge.
The comparisons between Bel Ami and Sanders's Oscar winning Addison DeWitt have to be made. Both men are cynics about human nature, but whereas theater critic DeWitt is an observer and a behind the scenes manipulator of others, Bel Ami is doing it all for his own advancement. Both performances have that touch of cad about them and they rank as some of the best work George Sanders did.
Look for good performances from John Carradine as Sanders's only true male friend and Angela Lansbury who he loves, but who can't give him the social standing he needs.
Also of course look for Warren William in his farewell role as Sanders's main antagonist. A not very brave, but a fairly shrewd sort, Sanders regularly bests him until the very end.
The Private Affairs of Bel Ami was a rather daring film for Code run Hollywood, it doesn't surprise me it was an independent movie, released by United Artists.
Fans of The Eternal Cad George Sanders will eat it up.
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