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Celestine, the chamber-maid, has a new job in the country, at the Lanlaires. She has decided to use her beauty to seduce a wealthy man, but Mr. Lanlaire is not a right choice: the house is firmly controlled by Madame Lanlaire, helped by the strange valet Joseph. Then she tries the neighbour, former officer Mauger. This seems to work. But soon the son of the Lanlaires comes back. He is young, attractive and does not share his mother's antirepublican opinions. So Celestine's beauty attracts Captain Mauger, young Georges Lanlaire, and Joseph. Three men, from three different social classes, with three different conceptions of life. Will Celestine be able to convince Georges of her sincerity? Will sinister and inflexible Joseph let his views on Celestine be ruined? A quite disillusioned depiction of humanity.Written by
Paulette Godard is the real reason to watch this movie
The Diary of a Chambermaid (1946) was directed by the great Jean Renoir. This is an U.S. film, although the action was set in France, and directed by a French director.
The movie is set in rural France in 1885. As the title suggests, a new chambermaid has arrived at a mansion of an eccentric couple. (Actually, almost everyone in the movie is eccentric to a greater or lesser degree.)
The person who's not eccentric, but totally evil, is the valet, Joseph. Francis Lederer portrayed Joseph, who is evil to the core. He looks like the villain that he is. (Actually, in one film. he played Count Dracula).
The reason to see is film is to watch Paulette Goddard at work. She was the classic Hollywood beauty of her time. And, 70 years later, she is still a classic Hollywood beauty. Better than that, she could act! Goddard plays Célestine, the chambermaid, whose only path out of lower-class drudgery is to marry a rich man. How this plays out is the plot of the film.
Renoir was possibly the greatest film director of the 20th Century. However, this movie is one of his minor films. Renoir does crowd scenes well, but he can't take his eyes off Goddard, and neither can we.
This movie has an anemic IMDB rating of 6.7. It's not a great film, but I think it's better than that. We saw it on DVD, and it worked well enough. Be sure to see it if you're a Renoir fan or a Goddard fan. Otherwise, I'd suggest Buñuel's 1964 version, with Jeanne Moreau.
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