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Saturday, 17 November 2012

The Private Affairs of Bel Ami (1947) - Star of the month... Angela Lansbury


"You are not strong, you are sly, cunning. You weave plots, invent schemes. You are no better than a thief." - Angela Lansbury (as Clotilde de Marelle in 'The Private Affairs of Bel Ami')

'The Private Affairs of Bel Ami' is a 1947 drama directed by Albert Lewin starring George Sanders, Angela Lansbury, Ann Dvorak, John Carradine and Warren William. The film is based on the novel 'Bel Ami' by Guy de Maupassant.

Set in 1880 Paris. Georges Duroy (played by Sanders) is out of work and broke. Through his friend Charles Forestier (played by Carradine) and wife Madeleine (played by Dvorak) he meets and becomes involved with , Clotilde de Marelle (played by Lansbury) is a young widow with a daughter. He then  decides to make his way from woman to woman, depending on who can best improve his social standing. Ruthlessly using and breaking the hearts of a number of different women, Georges status rises in Parisian society as he cheats woman out of their inheritances and their father's fortunes.

Did you know...

  • This was Angela Lansbury's first non-MGM film
  • This was Warren William's final film
  • This was the second time Angela Lansbury and George Sanders appeared in a film together - they had previously both appeared in 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' (1945)

Closing remarks

'The Private Affairs of Bel Ami' is overall an enjoyable film. What I like most about this story is the way it presents a male character as a gold digger. Often in film, the gold digger is stereotyped in the form of a female character as a black widow.

George Sanders is at his sinister best as the ruthless fortune hunter crushing the hearts of women as he attempts to steal their money. Angela Lansbury delivers one of her finest dramatic performances from her early career. Sadly this film has yet to be released in DVD.

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