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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of the most adult and intelligent American films of the forties.
Albert Lewin's reputation rests almost entirely on two films, "The Picture of Dorian Gray" and "Pandora and the Flying Dutchman" but his masterpiece must surely be the little known and little seen "The Private Affairs of Bel Ami" from the novel by Guy De Maupassant. It is, of course, a very witty portrait of a cad, beautifully played by George Sanders, but it is also a film of considerable psychological depth and one of the most adult and intelligent American pictures of the forties with not a trace of the camp usually associated with the director.
Rather we get an incisive picture of a period and that rarefied milieu of high Parisian society, beautifully written by Lewin and superbly played by everyone. In particular Angela Lansbury is outstanding as the one woman Sanders might actually have feelings for. It's a great performance that should have made Lansbury a major Hollywood player rather than simply the great character actress she became. Even the usually wooden Warren William excels here. If any film cries out for a restoration it is this one.
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