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An industrialist has his wife tailed because he secretly hopes she is betraying him so that he can ask for a divorce and marry the model he's fallen in love with. This leads to a series of thefts, blackmail and a suicide as well. Written by
Salvatore Santangelo <email@example.com>
Cad Pierre Cressoy worms his way through nouveau riche
"The Unfaithfuls" (1953) starts off in a light vein that one might think is going to be a comedy. It turns into a film noir, however. An industrialist (Carlo Romano) hires a private eye firm to get evidence of his wife's (Irene Papas) supposed infidelity so that he can divorce her without prejudice to his wealth and marry his mistress, Marina Vlady, who is groomed by her grasping mother. When Papas turns out to be faithful, he suggests that the detective operative, Pierre Cressoy, himself seduce her. The penniless hustling Cressoy turns out to be much more of a cad than that, and the story quickly grows more and more dark and serious until it ends on a very dark noir note. Cressoy strongly resembles Henri Vidal, and his character here also reminds me of Vidal in "Une manche et la belle" (1957), a later noir.
The story's main star is May Britt (as a brunette), and she's terrific as a woman now unhappily married to a wealthy, very stiff and overbearing Englishman (Charles Fawcett). She once loved Cressoy and the sparks re-ignite when they again meet, although Cressoy's motives are quite mercenary. He begins by using Britt to obtain an invitation to meet Papas, but that's merely a first step in a story that picks apart the nouveau riche mercilessly. A maid (Anna Maria Ferrero) accused of theft has an important role. Gina Lollobrigida has a small but important role as one in the circle of well-off people, whose parties include jumping into a swimming pool. This is 7 years prior to "La Dolce Vita". Carlo Ponti and Dino de Laurentiis produced.
As a noir fan, I was pleasantly surprised by this neglected movie. The story is intricate and well thought out, integrating its sub-plots seamlessly. The acting is very strong. I think it qualifies as a noir on the strength of story, situations and characters. This combines with a dark look to it, subdued lighting quite often, and a neo-realist feel to it at times. It doesn't go out of its way to use shadowed photography, however.
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