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THE PRIVATE AFFAIRS OF BEL AMI

Director:

112 minutes| U.S.A.| 1946| Black and White| 35mm


An underrated gem, this is Lewin’s superb adaptation of Guy de Maupassant’s 1885 novel Bel Ami. George Sanders plays the soldier who returns from the battlefield to find himself without means in 19th century Paris. He uses his good looks to make his way, climbing the social ladder via affairs with five women. Although he is a misogynist and self-serving scoundrel, women find Bel Ami irresistible, and he’s unable to stop his philandering even after finding his true love (Angela Lansbury).

Remarkably faithful to the novel given the restrictions of 1940s Hollywood censorship, Lewin’s film refuses to stigmatise its hero, viewing him as just another member of a society built on social and sexual inequality. That injustice is made quite explicit by the revelation that Bel Ami’s rise to power as a journalist is in part due to the fact that one of his female victims writes his copy.

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