Sanders' Homme Fatale
Bitter and twisted by observing the wealth of other as he lives in France following the war, writer Georges Duroy (George Sanders) callously starts his social climbing as he uses one woman to get to the next on the next step of the ladder, going from Rachel (Marie Wilson) to Clotilde de Morelle (Angela Lansbury) then Madeleine Forestier (Ann Dvorak) before seducing the married Madame Walter (Katherine Emery) and then her daughter Suzanne (Susan Douglas Rubes). But as he climbs the social ladder it movies him ever closer to one of France's noble houses and in to a whole different and more dangerous league.
Whilst I am sure there were many who enjoyed the 2012 movie by the name of "Bel Ami", in part due to it starring Robert Pattinson, I didn't and found it little more than a visual movie. I had hoped when I came across "The Private Affairs of Bel Ami", the 1947 adaptation of Guy de Maupassant story, that this movie would be more entertaining with a greater focus on the story. Sadly I was wrong and now am wondering whether my disappointment with "Bel Ami" was as much to do with the story as it was for being all about the visuals.
The trouble is that the exploits of "Homme Fatale" Georges Duroy in "The Private Affairs of Bel Ami" as he manipulates his way up the social ladder, going from one woman to another whether married or not is actually not that entertaining. Maybe it is due to the age of this movie that it is all relatively safe and more about the insinuations of Georges being a scoundrel and rat but this now comes across as a stiff walk through of a story about a man who is a social climber who without giving too much away is undone by his own ambition to reach the top.
Part of the trouble is that George Sanders was never the most charismatic of actors and whilst he manages to bring the bitterness of his character to the screen he doesn't convince as a dapper charmer ending up a stiff fore for much of the movie. Unfortunately the women he ends up charming end up just as uninteresting as the character of Georges and that is down to them either being stiff or in some cases seeming to over act to try and make an impression.
What this all boils down to is that "The Private Affairs of Bel Ami" has not aged well and whilst it has an appealing cast which is still quite a draw the movie itself is stiff and not that entertaining.