The Private Affairs of Bel Ami (1947)

110 or 112 mins | Romance | 7 March 1947

Director:

Albert Lewin

Writer:

Albert Lewin

Producer:

David L. Loew

Cinematographers:

Russell Metty, John Mescall

Editor:

Al Joseph

Production Designer:

Gordon Wiles

Production Company:

Loew-Lewin, Inc.
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HISTORY

The film's title card reads: "Guy de Maupassant's The Private Affairs of Bel Ami ." The film's working titles were Bel Ami and The Affairs of Bel Ami . According to an Apr 1947 HR news item, producer David Loew and director Albert Lewin considered changing the title from The Affairs of Bel Ami to Affairs of a Cheat to avoid confusion with two films called Bel Ami that were in release at the time--a Mexican-made, Spanish language version of de Maupassant's novel, and a 1937 Austrian version, directed by and starring Willy Forst.
       Although the film was photographed in black and white, Max Ernst's surrealist painting, "The Temptation of Saint Anthony," was shown in color. As reported in a DN news item, Loew and Lewin sponsored an art competition in which world famous artists were invited to submit a painting of St. Anthony for use in the film. After Ernst's picture was chosen, his and the other artists' paintings were exhibited in New York City. Other participating artists included Salvador Dali, Dorothea Tanning, Eugene Berman, Louis Guglielmi, Leonora Carrington, Abraham Rattner, Horace Pippin, Iva LeLorraine Albright, Paul Delvaux and Stanley Spencer. When the exhibition came to Boston, Mayor James M. Curley banned it, arguing that the paintings were offensive on a religious-moral basis. After Loew and Lewin filed a $200,000 suit against the mayor, the local Stuart galleries showed the exhibit.
       According to the MPAA/PCA files at the AMPAS Library, PCA director Joseph I. Breen objected to various elements of the film's preliminary treatment, including the characterization of ... More Less

The film's title card reads: "Guy de Maupassant's The Private Affairs of Bel Ami ." The film's working titles were Bel Ami and The Affairs of Bel Ami . According to an Apr 1947 HR news item, producer David Loew and director Albert Lewin considered changing the title from The Affairs of Bel Ami to Affairs of a Cheat to avoid confusion with two films called Bel Ami that were in release at the time--a Mexican-made, Spanish language version of de Maupassant's novel, and a 1937 Austrian version, directed by and starring Willy Forst.
       Although the film was photographed in black and white, Max Ernst's surrealist painting, "The Temptation of Saint Anthony," was shown in color. As reported in a DN news item, Loew and Lewin sponsored an art competition in which world famous artists were invited to submit a painting of St. Anthony for use in the film. After Ernst's picture was chosen, his and the other artists' paintings were exhibited in New York City. Other participating artists included Salvador Dali, Dorothea Tanning, Eugene Berman, Louis Guglielmi, Leonora Carrington, Abraham Rattner, Horace Pippin, Iva LeLorraine Albright, Paul Delvaux and Stanley Spencer. When the exhibition came to Boston, Mayor James M. Curley banned it, arguing that the paintings were offensive on a religious-moral basis. After Loew and Lewin filed a $200,000 suit against the mayor, the local Stuart galleries showed the exhibit.
       According to the MPAA/PCA files at the AMPAS Library, PCA director Joseph I. Breen objected to various elements of the film's preliminary treatment, including the characterization of "Rachel" as a prostitute; a scene of "Rachel" and "Georges" together in her room; a scene in which Georges and "Madame Walter" swear their love inside a church; and the suggestion that "Madeleine" was "Count de Vaudre's" illegitimate daughter. According to the Var review, Lewin was forced to remove any indication that Georges consorted with prostitutes, as depicted in the novel, and added the fatal duel at the end to uphold the Production Code's edict that crime must not pay in films. In early Feb 1946, Breen asked Lewin to rewrite the script to eliminate the "flavor of too much emphasis on disrespect for marriage and infidelity." Then, in Apr 1946, Breen insisted that the relationship between Georges and Clotilde be strictly platonic.
       Contemporary news items add the following information about the film's production: Shooting on the film began at the Enterprise Studios lot, but moved to RKO-Pathé Studios on 1 Jul 1946. In Nov 1946, background footage of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was filmed. The Folies Bergère bar, promenade, boxes and stage sets were authentic period recreations. After Lewin became ill during filming and caused a significant delay in production, several of the crew members left to work on the Lewis Milestone film Arch of Triumph (see above). Among those who were replaced were director of photography Russell Metty, who was replaced by John Mescall, head of makeup Gus Norin, who was replaced by makeup supervisor Ern Westmore, hairdresser Lillian Lashin, who was replaced by Lillian Burkhart, and assistant director Robert Aldrich, who was replaced by Reggie Callow. HR lists Paramount's Ernest Laszlo as Metty's assistant, but his appearance in the film has not been confirmed. Rudolph Polk was borrowed from Enterprise Studios to score the film. The Pina troupe of acrobats was engaged for the film, but did not appear in the completed film. According to a HR news item, Don Borzage, the eighteen-year-old nephew of director Frank Borzage, was scheduled to make his film debut in the film; however, his participation in the released film has not been confirmed. The film marked the screen debut of Susan Douglas. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
1 Mar 1947.
---
Daily Variety
26 Feb 47
p. 3, 12
Film Daily
25 Feb 1947.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Apr 46
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
3 May 46
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
24 May 46
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jun 46
p. 24.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jul 46
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Jul 46
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jul 1946.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jul 46
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jul 46
p. 5, 14
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jul 46
p. 18, 23
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jul 46
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Aug 46
p. 19.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Oct 1946.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Nov 46
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Nov 46
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Feb 47
p. 3, 14
Hollywood Reporter
16 Apr 47
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jun 47
p. 8.
Los Angeles Daily News
12 Apr 1947.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
1 Mar 1947.
---
New York Times
16 Jun 47
p. 25.
Variety
26 Feb 47
p. 10.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Painting "The Temptation of Saint Anthony" by
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus score comp and cond by
Mus supv
SOUND
Sd eng
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec scenic eff
Spec scenic eff
DANCE
Choreog
Choreog
MAKEUP
Head of makeup
Makeup supv
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Bel Ami by Guy de Maupassant (Paris, 1885).
SONGS
"My Bel Ami," music and lyrics by Jack Lawrence and Irving Drutman.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Guy de Maupassant's The Private Affairs of Bel Ami
Bel Ami
Release Date:
7 March 1947
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Paris, Texas: October 1946
Production Date:
late April--late June 1946 at Enterprise Studios
1 July--early August 1946 at RKO-Pathé Studios
Copyright Claimant:
Loew-Lewin, Inc.
Copyright Date:
7 March 1947
Copyright Number:
LP887
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black & white with color sequences
Duration(in mins):
110 or 112
Country:
United States
PCA No:
12023
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In a Paris sidewalk café in 1880, ex-soldier Georges Duroy meets an old army comrade, Charles Forestier, who offers to get him a job at a newspaper owned by Monsieur Walter, an aristocratic tycoon. During a dinner party at Charles' home the following evening, Georges is introduced into Paris society by Charles' beautiful wife Madeleine. Among the guests is Madeleine's best friend, Clotilde de Marelle, a young widow and mother of a young daughter named Laurine. Over dinner, Georges and the other guests discuss the puppet "Punch," a self-serving, brutish character with whom Georges has long been fascinated. Blind Norbert de Varenne, an organist at Notre Dame cathedral, poignantly interjects that those who are puppets of the devil are not themselves to blame for their exploits. The ambitious Georges then quickly ingratiates himself with Monsieur Walter. Later, with Madeleine's help, Georges starts a gossip column called "Echoes," through which he hopes to manipulate the social and financial pillars of Paris. At the same time, Georges and Clotilde fall in love. One night, however, Clotilde learns at the Folies Bergère that Georges has been involved with a young dancer named Rachel and realizes that he will never be faithful to her. Charles later dies from tuberculosis, and Georges marries the widowed Madeleine. Georges tells Clotilde that the marriage is merely one of convenience, and that he will always love her. Georges soon finds it advantageous to seduce Monsieur Walter's unhappy, aging wife, who falls desperately in love with him. One day, she confesses to Georges that Monsieur Walter and Georges' nemesis, political editor Laroche-Matheiu, are plotting to use Georges' column to make ... +


In a Paris sidewalk café in 1880, ex-soldier Georges Duroy meets an old army comrade, Charles Forestier, who offers to get him a job at a newspaper owned by Monsieur Walter, an aristocratic tycoon. During a dinner party at Charles' home the following evening, Georges is introduced into Paris society by Charles' beautiful wife Madeleine. Among the guests is Madeleine's best friend, Clotilde de Marelle, a young widow and mother of a young daughter named Laurine. Over dinner, Georges and the other guests discuss the puppet "Punch," a self-serving, brutish character with whom Georges has long been fascinated. Blind Norbert de Varenne, an organist at Notre Dame cathedral, poignantly interjects that those who are puppets of the devil are not themselves to blame for their exploits. The ambitious Georges then quickly ingratiates himself with Monsieur Walter. Later, with Madeleine's help, Georges starts a gossip column called "Echoes," through which he hopes to manipulate the social and financial pillars of Paris. At the same time, Georges and Clotilde fall in love. One night, however, Clotilde learns at the Folies Bergère that Georges has been involved with a young dancer named Rachel and realizes that he will never be faithful to her. Charles later dies from tuberculosis, and Georges marries the widowed Madeleine. Georges tells Clotilde that the marriage is merely one of convenience, and that he will always love her. Georges soon finds it advantageous to seduce Monsieur Walter's unhappy, aging wife, who falls desperately in love with him. One day, she confesses to Georges that Monsieur Walter and Georges' nemesis, political editor Laroche-Matheiu, are plotting to use Georges' column to make a profit in the stock market and agrees to lend him money to get in on the deal. As she then talks about a dream she had about him, Madame Walter tenderly winds strands of her hair around his coat button. When he stands, Georges callously rips the hairs from her head. Clotilde later finds the strands on his button and chastises him for deceiving Madeleine. The Count de Vaudrec, an elderly admirer of Madeleine, then dies, leaving his considerable fortune to her. As Madeleine's husband, Georges must by law approve her inheritance before she can accept the money, and he interrogates her about her relationship with the count. Although Madeleine swears that de Vaudrec was like a father to her, Georges insists that half of the inheritance be put in his name for appearance's sake. He then asks Madeleine to befriend Laroche-Mathieu, who is now the Minister of Finance, so that he can learn his secrets. One afternoon, while Madeleine and the minister meet, Georges sends a lawyer to accuse them of adultery, knowing the accusation will ruin Laroche-Mathieu's career. After Georges divorces Madeleine and takes half her fortune, he immediately begins a secret courtship with the Walters' daughter Suzanne, who stands to inherit forty million francs. He needs a title to marry her, however, and believing that there are no living descendants of the de Cantel family, applies for the family's three-hundred-year-old title. Now a man of nobility, Georges asks Monsieur Walter for his daughter's hand. The news of her daughter's engagement shocks the madame into a stupor, and she spends her days staring at "The Temptation of Saint Anthony," a painting she has recently acquired. Plotting her revenge, Madame Walter sends a clipping of the public notice for the title to a farmer in the de Cantel region, hoping a de Cantel descendant will step forward. Before the wedding, a man named Philippe de Cantel comes to Paris to challenge Georges to a duel. On the morning of the duel, Georges tells Clotilde that he has left his fortune to her and Laurine--the only two people he ever really loved. She races to the Walters' home to beg Suzanne to marry Georges without the title, and together with Madame Walter, they rush to the Bois de Vesinet, where the duel is to take place. After taking ten paces forward, Philippe is shot in the stomach by Georges, and has two minutes to return fire. Crawling in agony toward his opponent, Philippe shoots Georges in the chest just as the women arrive. As Georges lies dying in a carriage, Madame Walter defiantly informs him that it was she who notified Philippe. Before he dies, Georges wistfully murmurs that he could have been happy with Clotilde. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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