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16 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

A blazing good time

Author: -88 from Wichita, Kansas
22 February 2003

This hyper-cool French updating of the Laclos classic is a blast from start to (amazing) finish; its immorality can be a drag in the middle section, but there's too much fun to be had in it to abandon it for that reason. Jeanne Moreau does the full range of bad girl, and her performance alone would merit a viewing, but you can also enjoy the film for its sleek, French attitudes, its Thelonius Monk score, a handsome young Jean-Louis Tritignant, his suits, her wardrobe, and so on, forever. It's a nasty little film is some ways, but I enjoyed it immensely just the same.

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Open marriage

Author: jotix100 from New York
22 November 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Les Liaisons Dangereuses", a novel by Chordelos DeLaclos, had a great impact in the French culture. It's a work of such impact that it has served to inspire different screen treatments throughout the years. Roger Vadim updated the book to the France of the 1950s. Together with Claude Blule and Roger Vailand, they adapted Laclos' story among the upper classes.

Juliette Merteuil, who is married to the Vicomte Valmont, are swingers in Paris. Juliette and Valmont love to play around and they move in the right circles where it appears that everything goes, or is, at least, tolerated. They are the ultimate sophisticates who have class the right connections. Juliette wants to teach a lesson to someone that had crossed her in the past, and sets to weave a web of intrigue in order to get her revenge and her kicks, in doing so.

Needless to say, everything backfires on Mme. Merteuil and the Vicomte, as they get entangled in the web that has been spun. Valmont wanted to turn the youthful Cecile into a sex object, even though she is a virtuous girl who is going to get married with Danceny, the man who offended Mme. Merteuil. At the same time, Valmont can't help falling in love with Marianne, a beautiful young woman. It is ironic what happens to Valmont and to Mme. Merteuil, who instead of smallpox gets her face damaged by fire.

The film is interesting to watch as a comparison with the other versions that appear to be much better made than the Vadim version. The best thing going for the film is Gerard Philipe, who plays Valmont. Mr. Philipe made a good impression as the Vicomte. Jeanne Moreau, who is seen as Juliette Merteuil, looked beautiful in the role of the evil woman with designs on others. Jeanne Valerie appears as Cecile and Annette Vadim portrays Marianne. The young Jean-Louis Trintignant is seen as Danceny.

What distinguishes the film is the jazzy musical score by Thelonious Monk. The music blends well with the night club settings in the film and it can stand alone for listening. Marcel Grignon's dark photography didn't transfer to the DVD format well. This has to be one of the darkest photographed films in memory. Even the snow scenes look dark! Roger Vadim's attempt was courageous for transferring the novel to that high society world of the Parisian society.

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9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Not as scandalous as it thinks.

Author: manxman-1 from bahamas
12 October 2002

Interesting adaptation of the infamous Laclos classic, this movie was banned in England on it's original release. Difficult to understand why by today's standards. The movie is introduced by director Roger Vadim who basically warns that everyone is going to be bad, bad, bad. He then appears to head off to the nearest cafe for a nasty cigarette and a vile cup of coffee. Given that the movie was made a decade before the sexual revolution of the 1970's it must have had an aura of scandal about it at the time but is strictly tied to the 1950's and suffers from the inhibitions of the period. Very French, very stylish and well acted by the principals the storyline holds up but the cynicism and callousness of the original book are missing. Still, it's never boring and worth seeing for the performances and the direction that later, more explicit movies would take.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Dashes the intellectualism of high art on its head

Author: Chris_Docker from United Kingdom
7 July 2008

Can you think of a time when you went out "on the pull"? Where is that emotional fine line - between the little graces of life that make it so much fun – and getting deep in over your head? For Juliette and Valmont, seduction is salesmanship. Each new amour carefully planned. They have the emotional detachment of swingers. Throwing themselves into every passionate encounter with finesse. Only to return to the deeper affection they have for each other. "Love", as the English poet once said, "should be a strictly physiological matter, with just that amount of natural emotion that goes with it." Think of a jazz musician - and Director Roger Vadim obviously does – this film is scored by Thelonius Monk. There are fixed parameters in jazz, but opportunities for wide variation in between. Juliette and Valmont enjoy those variations. Then report back to the other affectionately. Or even help each other plan the improvisations.

A book that has been filmed many times, this early Vadim version is not only one of his best movies. He manages to reduce the bitching to a grand dramatic flourish, not a raison d'etre. Unsurprisingly. He was known off-screen for his sensual and avant-garde lifestyle. On-screen he can portray sensuality with realism and accuracy. (Even if the nudity is tame by today's standards.) Unlike most leads, Valmont doesn't just make girls swoon by appearing in frame. He tells them what they want to hear. If it weren't for the moralistic ending deemed necessary by popular culture, the movie could be a handbook of seduction. For the script has a feeling of authenticity.

Vadim has been described as the "classiest exploitation filmmaker who ever lived." Bardot, one of his five wives, called him, 'seduction itself.' (Of the men she married after him, she said dismissively, "They were only husbands.") The skill with which Valmont and Juliette entrance even gorgeous young ingénues is masterful. If all lovers possessed such consummate ability, might the world be a happier and less frustrating place? But, inevitably, our pair not only misuse their technique, failing to put the good of their conquests uppermost, but fall into the one trap they thought they could always avoid . . .

Cinematography in Dangerous Liaisons is straightforward cinema at its finest. The vicarious pleasure of boldly careering down the Alps almost made me want to take up skiing too. Simple use of black and white photography is mirrored in the appealing, clear-cut personas that Valmont projects. He lies in the snow, confidently dressed in black, with the virtuous Marianne all in white nest to him. Simple shots. Valmont on a train station - silhouetted against the steam. Figures on an empty beach – plus a few horses. Such composition is breathtaking. Especially with the high-keyed psychological tension that runs through. And when someone gets a sock to the jaw, it sounds real, not like it usually does 'in the movies'.

Temptation to go beyond the bounds of their seducers' art has a number of dramatic purposes. It provides a great theatrical crescendo. It gives a nod to the original book. And it 'keeps the peace' with the morality of monogamy. As Valmont's hedonism leaves its own well-defined limits, he shouts over the jazz, like a soloist insisting on ill-timed attention.

The didactic attitudes to pleasure of the day are one of the reasons that Vadim's original Dangerous Liaisons works better than in more modern interpretations. Today's woman (and man) likes to make independent choices, as well as be wooed intelligently. The careful plotting of Vadim's philanderers is more evil in a time when 'goodness' is equated with sexual ignorance Juliette and Valmont are 'clear-headed' rather than 'jealous' of each other's affairs. They have been together eleven years. Does no-one observe that this is a longer innings (by their own admission) than any of their more conservative friends? Instead of the Machiavellian rendering of the protagonists in other versions, Juliette and Valmont are ultra-chic. And, until they come off the rails, ultra-desirable.

Dangerous Liaisons is the movie that brought Jeanne Moreau (Juliette) to an international audience. Her full-on pout projects an aura of sexuality (compare her here with her performance in films such as Lumiere and L'Adolescent to see what a consummate act it is). She conquers us by identifying her 'amoral' lifestyle with a moral high ground (and one which indeed persists longer and more convincingly than that of her husband). When she refuses to sleep with him early on in the movie, she explains that she is never 'unfaithful' to her lovers. She shares the details of her current suitor with him intellectually rather than physically. And she is the first to be appalled at the human wreckage that Valmont's unconscious search for emotional truth is leaving in its wake.

We maybe tend to think of French New Wave films as being terribly provocative. Yet they could only be provocative within the bounds of the strong French censorship of the time. Films about Indochina and Algeria were halted. Dangerous Liaisons was briefly suppressed for painting an unflattering portrait of French diplomats. The Centre National de la Cinématographie strengthened its power over controversial scripts after its release. But the New Wave 'rebelliousness' – associated with the influential Cahiers du Cinema group of directors like Godard and Truffaut – was initially that of that of the 'youth class'. It was in relation to Vadim's work that the term was first coined.

Even sophistication has its limits. And this film dashes the intellectualism of high art on its head before bringing us to its gratuitously high moral conclusion.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

One of the best movies about heartlessness -- and one of the best soundtracks ever

Author: netwallah from The New Intangible College
5 May 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

One of the best films about heartlessness I've ever seen, largely because of the fine work of Jeanne Moreau as Juliette and Gérard Philipe as Valmont. Setting most of the action at a ski resort is especially brilliant because it's at once full of glamour and quite enclosed. For a while the film seems to be a sort of sex comedy, especially with the seduction of the young cousin Cecile (Jeanne Valérie), who is in love with fellow student Danceny (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and engaged to a dull fellow chosen by her family. Cecile is very comely, and the post-seduction scene when she lies nude on her stomach doing her geometry homework and Valmont rests the textbook on her bum—it's sweet and amusing. It turns sour when Juliette steals Danceny and forces Valmont to abandon the virtuous Marianne (Annette Vadim) with whom he's actually fallen in love. Moreau is strong and beautiful and twisted, a tour-de-force acting job. At last, an angry Danceny strikes despairing but still glamorous Valmont, who falls and hits his head on an andiron and dies. Juliette accidentally sets her clothing on fire trying to burn their awful letters. Marianne goes mad when she learns of Valmont's death, and with a trance-like smile talks softly about the imaginary home they might have had together. The photography is really fine, and the best additional thing is the wonderful music by Thelonius Monk and Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. It's even better than I'd remembered it from many years ago.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Piquant sex comedy

Author: Cristi_Ciopron from CGSM, Soseaua Nationala 49
17 June 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I seldom write about movies I have seen once, many years ago; but Les Liaisons' cast makes it worth.

I would say this spicy '59 flick is the best thing Vadim ever directed; not so much an adaptation, but rather a variation on Laclos' theme, a light, sardonic and suspenseful treatment, in an interesting movie, the only time known to me when Vadim handled with shrewdness a subject. I have seen it some 10 yrs ago, and still remember my joy; if Laclos' novel is a sharp, elegant masterpiece, once known to the European connoisseurs of French culture, Vadim's flick is an amusement. The cast is especially delightful: Merteuil is played by Mme Moreau (--Glenn Close, Bening, Gellar, Deneuve have been other actresses to take the same role, 30—40 yrs later--); Valmont is played by Philipe, that amazing actor (--Malkovich, Firth, Everett are no true contenders …--); Mme. De Tourvel has been played by more famous actresses in the subsequent adaptations (Mrs. Pfeiffer, Mrs. Tilly and Mrs. Kinski).

It seems an indecency to give Close and Malkovich roles once made by Moreau and Philipe;

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DANGEROUS LIAISONS 1960 (Roger Vadim, 1959) ***

Author: MARIO GAUCI ( from Naxxar, Malta
29 January 2014

Roger Vadim's reputation as a director of erotica and his own affairs with numerous leading ladies has denied him serious attention by movie critics. Nevertheless, he did make a few prestigious efforts – mainly adaptations of famous, sometimes infamous, material: the film under review (based on the novel by Choderlos de Laclos), BLOOD AND ROSES (1960; Sheridan LeFanu's "Carmilla"), VICE AND VIRTUE (1963; inspired by the works of the Marquis de Sade), CIRCLE OF LOVE (1964; Arthur Schnitzler's "La Ronde"), THE GAME IS OVER (1966; Emile Zola's "La Curee'") and the "Metzengerstein" segment from SPIRITS OF THE DEAD (1968; based on an Edgar Allan Poe short story). I own all six of these but have watched only four so far, including LIAISONS; actually, I liked all of them – but, excluding SPIRITS, this first rendition of a scandalous classic emerges as not just the most satisfactory of the lot but perhaps the most significant in his entire oeuvre.

Incidentally, in view of the updating of the narrative from the 18th to the 20th century, the full original title is LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES 1960; tragically, co-star Gerard Philipe would not live to see that year through, as he succumbed to cancer two months after the film's September release…though he had, by then, finished work on another, namely Luis Bunuel's REPUBLIC OF SIN (1959). The source novel has been regularly adapted for both the big and small screens, especially in the last 25 years: I had earlier watched the 1988 DANGEROUS LIAISONS and the 1999 modernization CRUEL INTENTIONS, and also own the 1989 VALMONT and the 2003 DANGEROUS LIAISONS TV mini-series (coincidentally, featuring one of Vadim's former flames and VICE AND VIRTUE co-star Catherine Deneuve); speaking of Philipe, Vadim and remakes, it is interesting to note that Philipe had appeared in the original versions of two films Vadim would eventually rework, i.e. LA RONDE (1950) and THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS (1952; Vadim's would be made 10 years later where, again, he was just one of several directors involved in an anthology).

Anyway, this adaptation of French sexual intrigues makes a rather uneasy stab at equating what can be described as the perversions of the nobility (taking pleasure in corrupting the inexperienced, consequently quashing their idealized notion of love) with the amoral attitudes of the late 1950s; I say uneasy because, even if Federico Fellini's contemporaneous LA DOLCE VITA depicted a similarly decaying aristocracy, the 1960s would soon reveal that hedonism was pervasive and not tied to a certain class! That said, the plot retains its essential fascination – aided by the spot-on casting of Philippe, Jeanne Moreau (who would break out internationally soon after), Annette Stroyberg (then Vadim's wife and billed under his surname), Jeanne Valerie and Jean-Louis Trintignant; in keeping with the director's penchant for nudity, all three females mentioned shed their clothes throughout – but these scenes are extremely tame by the standards of even a decade down the line!

There are other good and not-so-good points: on the one hand, the ironic come-uppance of the central conniving pair (Philippe is killed in a fall while struggling with the otherwise mild-mannered Trintignant, after the latter finds out that the former has impregnated his girlfriend – and Philipe's own cousin! – Valerie; Moreau – Philipe's wife, who had also callously tried to break up the young couple's affair by seducing Trintignant – is facially-scarred after being engulfed in flames while trying to dispose of incriminating letters prior to the impending inquest over her husband's death); and the jazz soundtrack by Thelonious Monk (a trend popularized by Miles Davis' score for Louis Malle's LIFT TO THE SCAFFOLD {1958}, also featuring Moreau). On the other hand, some of the dancing at the climactic party is 'wildly' dated but, more importantly, Stroyberg's descent into madness at Philipe's deception simply does not ring true in a modern context! For what it is worth, the film is also included in the "Wonders In The Dark" poll and I watched it appositely to mark the birthdays of its director and main female star.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

An E for Effort...

Author: johnnyx-2 from London, England
28 February 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As far as plot goes, Vadim doesn't actually add anything new to the ages-old and oft-redone Laclos story, something, in fact, that he mentions himself during the introduction.

Rather, he retells it as simply as possible - the stark black and white imagery is beautiful, and the dialogue is actually quite sparse. You're invited to see the connections between people through body language, smiles, and laughter. It's actually too understated at times, but the effort can be appreciated.

And the spoiler...

Vadim's most significant addition to the cluttered world of Laclos-rewrites was to *marry* Merteuil and Valmont. He confesses at the introduction that the general hedonism of the characters would never shock a 1960's audience - so he had to up the bar. It's no longer the fact that they play people and wantonly take lovers, it's the fact that they're such willing partners in one-another's games. A wife helping her husband seduce a new (underage) conquest? Except in the creepy world of internet fiction, that's still very, very creepy...

Well done. Not the best of the films - John and Glenn still have that wrapped up - but a solid runner-up.

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6 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

La Marquise de Merteuil...

Author: dbdumonteil
18 September 2005

Among all Vadim's duds,"les liaisons dangereuses " seems to have stood the test of time better than the other "works" of the director.The reason is to be found in the cast.Gérard Philipe -though largely overshadowed by John Malkovich in Frears's version -and mainly Jeanne Moreau are earnest thespians and you cannot be wrong with them.And Roger Vailland and Claude Brulé had a good idea for the conclusion:fire instead of smallpox allows us to hear Laclos's immortal line "She's wearing her soul on her face!"

Objections to this early version -to be followed by half a dozen of them- remain:that the story should have been transferred to the sixties is eminently questionable:La Merteuil was a definitely modern original character in Choderlos de Laclos's times ;in 1960,such a woman's behavior had become banal.Vadim would do worse when he would transfer Zola's "la curée" to his era.

Proof positive that all that glittered in the nouvelle vague was not gold.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A failure nowadays, a success in the past

Author: SixtusXLIV from Portugal
31 March 2010

This is one of the movies (not many) where the remake "Dangerous Liaisons" of Stephen Frears wins by a large margin.

First of all those movie had one Great Actress in Jeanne Moreau. Bur ir as an incompetent Director in Roger VAdim and some miscasts like Gérard Philippe as Valmont. Perhaps the main culprit is "Roger Vailland". I'm am very fond of "Vailland",love is novels (namely "Drôle de Jeu", but I've read them when I was too young. Nowadays I believe that is is the wrong kind of scriptwriter. Also Roger Vadim did not care for literature. Ask Brigite Bardot. This is a semi-failure. See it only id you are a fan of Jeanne Moreau. There is more eroticism in "Journal d'une Femme de Chambre" by Luis Buñuel than here, about "boudain". "morcilla" or just plain English "sausage". The Anglo-Saxons cannot make sausages and the current laws forbid to to it properly..

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