26 user 8 critic

Death of a Scoundrel (1956)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 31 October 1956 (USA)
The New York police investigates the murder of a Czech immigrant whose rags-to-riches story is told by his secretary to homicide detectives.


Charles Martin


Charles Martin




Cast overview, first billed only:
George Sanders ... Clementi Sabourin
Yvonne De Carlo ... Bridget Kelly
Zsa Zsa Gabor ... Mrs. Ryan
Victor Jory ... Leonard Wilson
Nancy Gates ... Stephanie North
Coleen Gray ... Mrs. Edith Van Renasslear
John Hoyt ... Mr. O'Hara
Lisa Ferraday ... Zina Monte
Tom Conway ... Gerry Monte aka Sabourin
Celia Lovsky ... Mrs. Sabourin - Clementi's mother
Werner Klemperer ... Herbert Bauman - Clementi's lawyer
Justice Watson Justice Watson ... Henry - Clementi's Butler
John Sutton ... The Actor as 'Tom' in Stage Play
Curtis Cooksey ... Oswald Van Renassalear
Gabriel Curtiz Gabriel Curtiz ... Max Freundlich


When Clementi Suborin is found murdered, his secretary recounts to the police the story of his rise from Czech refugee to ultra-rich New Yorker. The tale of betrayal, womanising and fraud confirms that almost everyone who knew him wanted him dead. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


WOMEN...He finds them...loves them...leaves them...on his million dollar march to self destruction! See more »


Crime | Drama | Film-Noir


Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Loosely based on the mysterious death of Serge Rubinstein, a Russian-born financial wizard and stock manipulator who was found murdered in his New York apartment in 1955. The murder remains unsolved. See more »


At the beginning of the movie, Clementi visits his brother at his shop. At the door Clementi says, "Aren't you going to let me in?". The brother turns and leads the way. In the next shot, it shows the brother backing up to let Clementi in. See more »


Mrs. Ryan: I cannot be bought. I might be influenced; but, never bought.
See more »


Referenced in Worth Winning (1989) See more »

User Reviews

Wolf of Wall Street - 50's style
21 June 2014 | by tomsviewSee all my reviews

I first became aware of this movie when I bought the soundtrack composed by Max Steiner back in the 80's. With its Eastern European flavour, the score for "Death of a Scoundrel" was Steiner in top form, and as I later discovered, was one of the best things about the movie.

The film begins with Clementi Subourin (George Sanders) lying shot dead across a bed. His assistant, Bridget Kelly (Yvonne De Carlo), tells his story, which is revealed in a long flashback.

In Czechoslovakia just after WW2, Subourin returns from a concentration camp to visit his brother, played in the film by George Sanders' real-life brother, Tom Conway. After discovering that his brother has virtually forgotten him and even married the girlfriend he had asked him to protect, Subourin turns his brother over to the police for dealing on the black market.

He travels to America where he makes a fortune speculating on the stock market - mostly by questionable means. Along the way he encounters people who either become allies or more likely, enemies. Subourin is ruthless and vengeful, and has affairs with many women, often at the same time. He is a forerunner of the Wolf of Wall Street but seen through the heavy filter of 1950's censorship.

Ultimately, it all unravels and we finally learn who pumped the bullets into him.

The movie covers a lot of ground, and has a good script - for the most part. However it falls down visually. Almost totally studio bound, where a filmmaker like Val Lewton and his team could transform a cheap set into a work of art using the shadows from a shuttered window, the guys who made "Death of a Scoundrel" were masters of over-lighting.

The scenes set in Europe are the worst. It's almost as though someone found an unused storeroom at RKO and thought, "Great, this can be Czechoslovakia".

Apart from his trademark arrogance and disdain; George Sanders' character also shows nervousness, petulance and even a little contrition. It almost seems like too much acting from George. I prefer his Addison DeWitt from "All About Eve" where, although he only displays one mood, absolute superiority, it is undiluted Sanders. His back-story is also poorly thought out. After he has just been released from a concentration camp, he looks amazingly healthy - in the pink in fact. At no point does he seem to carry the baggage from the experience that Rod Steiger does in "The Pawnbroker".

The cast is full of beautiful women. Yvonne De Carlo and Zsa Zsa Gabor are foremost among them, and are numbered in the quartet of women looking down on George Sander's body in the striking poster for the film, which along with Sanders and Steiner, was another element in the sum of the parts that turned out to be greater than the whole.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 26 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »






Release Date:

31 October 1956 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Loves and Death of a Scoundrel See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed