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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 movie is is faithful to the novel for about 3/4 of its running time. A handsome, amoral rake cuts his way through the vain, naive, foppish,self centered denizens of Parisian society in the 1880s He is not that smart, but he is shrewd enough to get the money and affection he craves. We don't know where his appetites came from. De Maupassant created him primarily to show the appalling psychological weaknesses of French upper class society "Prety Boy", as he is called, wins and wins big.
Well, the morals code of 1947 would not permit this. A scoundrel thriving is as bad was a naked woman on screen in the 1940s. You couldn't show it! Thus, the entire last section of this movie is made to comply with the code, and it plays out a story of how "Pretty Boy"'s primary victim thwarts his schemes and gets even. She gets even Big.
While I am happy to see the rat get his, this ending undermines the main point of the novel. It also doesn't fit the first three quarters. Characters suddenly behave differently than they did previously with no description of how and why they changed.
Still, it is a literate and intelligent movie. Not many of this kind of movie was made then, and even fewer are made today It is well played. George Sanders is the perfect cad. All the female actors do very well. Even since I first saw Ann Dvorak when I was six or seven, I have had a crush on her all these many decades, so it was good to see her.
Well worth the time for intelligent viewers...and those seniors who love Ann Dvorak!!
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