Valmont (1989)

R | 134 mins | Drama, Romance | 17 November 1989

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HISTORY

A 12 Nov 1989 LAT article stated that director Milos Forman first read Pierre Ambroise François Choderlos de Laclos’ 1782 novel, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, as an assignment for literature professor Milan Kundera in film school thirty-five years earlier. Kundera would later write the novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
       According to a 10 Feb 1988 NYT article, as Forman moved forward with his production, Lorimar Film Entertainment developed a competing project based on the Royal Shakespeare Company play that ran on Broadway. A cast and director Stephen Frears had been hired, with principal photography set to begin in May 1988. Lawyers for Lorimar attempted to reach Forman about merging the two projects. It was not clear if discussions took place, but Forman went back to the source material for his inspiration.
       Articles in spring 1989 Life and the 12 Nov 1989 NYT reported that Forman spent three years developing his version, and six months with Jean-Claude Carrière to write the screenplay. The men added scenes in markets and taverns to expand the action.
The tragic ending of the book was also changed to reflect irony. The moral code of the time in which the novel was published dictated that the sinners must be punished for their wrongdoings. Meanwhile, Frears’s picture, Dangerous Liaisons (1988, see entry), was filmed at a cost of $10--$15 million on a seventy-day shooting schedule.
       The 12 Nov 1989 LAT stated that although Dangerous Liaisons was released first and won three Academy Awards, Forman’s project continued as planned. Forman avoided watching Frears’s picture until long ... More Less

A 12 Nov 1989 LAT article stated that director Milos Forman first read Pierre Ambroise François Choderlos de Laclos’ 1782 novel, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, as an assignment for literature professor Milan Kundera in film school thirty-five years earlier. Kundera would later write the novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
       According to a 10 Feb 1988 NYT article, as Forman moved forward with his production, Lorimar Film Entertainment developed a competing project based on the Royal Shakespeare Company play that ran on Broadway. A cast and director Stephen Frears had been hired, with principal photography set to begin in May 1988. Lawyers for Lorimar attempted to reach Forman about merging the two projects. It was not clear if discussions took place, but Forman went back to the source material for his inspiration.
       Articles in spring 1989 Life and the 12 Nov 1989 NYT reported that Forman spent three years developing his version, and six months with Jean-Claude Carrière to write the screenplay. The men added scenes in markets and taverns to expand the action.
The tragic ending of the book was also changed to reflect irony. The moral code of the time in which the novel was published dictated that the sinners must be punished for their wrongdoings. Meanwhile, Frears’s picture, Dangerous Liaisons (1988, see entry), was filmed at a cost of $10--$15 million on a seventy-day shooting schedule.
       The 12 Nov 1989 LAT stated that although Dangerous Liaisons was released first and won three Academy Awards, Forman’s project continued as planned. Forman avoided watching Frears’s picture until long after completing his own work, and believed his adaptation stayed truer to the motivations and ages of the characters in the book, which he based more on “youthful ignorance” than malicious intrigue. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, “Valmont’s” character was equal parts “brat” and arrogant charmer. During the casting process, he used suggestions by the actors to shape his characters, and chose never-before-seen locations as opposed to reverting to chateaux commonly used in period filming. Items in the 30 Mar 1988 HR and 5 May 1988 LAHExam reported that Faye Dunaway and Drew Barrymore was screen tested for the role of "Cécile."
       After several delays through the month of Jul, principal photography was finally underway in Paris, France, beginning in Aug 1988. Life reported that the film had a $35 million budget and a 121-day shooting schedule.
       End credits state: “Filmed on location in France at: Musée Nissin de Camondo, Paris; Château de la Motte Tilly; Château de Versailles; Opéra Comique, Paris; Le Musée du Cheval Vivant Grandes Ecuries, Chantilly; Hôtel des Ambassadeurs de Hollande, Paris; Abbaye aux Hommes, Caen; Cité Episcopale, Meaux; City of Bordeaux; Eclair Studios, Epinay.” The following acknowledgments appear in end credits: “Special Thanks to: Les Produits Ici Valentine-Assurances Générales de France; Christofle, Orfevre-SMO Bureautique; Mr. Lecoules Antiquaire-Mr. Christian Tortu, Fleuriste.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
LAHExam
5 May 1988.
---
Life
Spring 1989.
---
Los Angeles Times
12 Nov 1989
Calendar, p. 5, 76.
Los Angeles Times
17 Nov 1989
Calendar, p. 1, 10.
New York Times
10 Feb 1988.
---
New York Times
12 Nov 1989
p. 15, 25.
New York Times
17 Nov 1989
p. 20.
Variety
13 Jul 1988.
---
Variety
15 Nov 1989
p. 20.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Claude Berri and Renn Productions present
a Milos Forman film
A Coproduction: Renn Productions (Paris), Timothy Burrill Productions Ltd. (London)
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
Addl 2d asst dir
Addl 2d asst dir
Trainee
PRODUCERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Key grip
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d unit cam op
Steadicam op
Luma cam op
Still photog
Best boy, Elec
Best boy, Grip
Generator op
Generator op
Cam supplies by
Cam supplies by
Lighting equip from
Stills photo
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Art dir
Art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Post prod supv
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dresser
Props
Buyer
Const mgr
Chief const grip
Lead carpenter
Chief painter
Backdrop painter
Scenic painter
Upholsterer
Antique molding
Model maker
Sculptor
Asst leadman, Locs
Propman, Furniture
Propman, Furniture
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward coord
Ward supv
Ward supv
Women`s cost
Women`s cost
Cost accessories des
Ward asst
Ward asst
Ward asst
Ward asst
Ward asst
Ward asst
Ward asst
Cost made by
Cost made by
Shoes made by
Jewelry & cost props
Jewelry & cost props
Jewelry & cost props
MUSIC
Mus comp and arr
Addl scoring/Supv mus ed
Asst mus ed
Apprentice mus ed
Mus coord, France
Mus rec at
Mus eng
Mus eng
Mus performed with
SOUND
Sd mixer
Supv sd ed
Boom op
2d cable man
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst ADR ed
Apprentice sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff, U.K.
Spec eff, France
Spec eff, France
Titles and opticals
DANCE
Choreog
Asst choreog
MAKEUP
Wigs and makeup des
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairdresser
Hairdresser
Wig supv
Makeup asst
Makeup asst
Makeup asst
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Scr consultant
Scr consultant
Casting, France
Casting, France
Unit mgr
Prod assoc, U.S.A.
Financial supv
Prod accountant
Prod accountant
Prod coord
Set interpreter
Asst unit mgr
Asst unit mgr
Asst unit mgr
Asst unit mgr
Asst prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Asst prod coord
Asst prod coord
Asst scr supv
Casting asst, U.S.A.
Casting asst, U.K.
Extras casting France
Extras casting France
Extras casting France
Horse trainer
Asst horse trainer
Dog trainer
Weapon master
Asst weapon master
Harp teacher
Bow master
Writing adv
Caterer, Locafete
Worldwide press and marketing
Asst to the prods
Asst to the prods
Asst to Milos Forman
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod driver
Cars and trucks
Cars and trucks
Cars and trucks
Negative raw stock
Sd negative stock
COLOR PERSONNEL
SOURCES
LITERARY
Freely adapted from the novel Les liaisons dangereuses by Pierre Ambroise François Choderlos de Laclos (Geneva, 1782).
SONGS
“Tom Jones ‘Ouverture And Finale,’” written by François-André Danican Philidor
“Richard Coeur De Lion “Ouverture,” written by André-Ernest-Modeste Grétry
“Le Sorcier,” written by François-André Danican Philidor
+
SONGS
“Tom Jones ‘Ouverture And Finale,’” written by François-André Danican Philidor
“Richard Coeur De Lion “Ouverture,” written by André-Ernest-Modeste Grétry
“Le Sorcier,” written by François-André Danican Philidor
“Te Deum,” written by Marc-Antoine Charpentier
“Minuet From Quartet In F Opus 50, No. 5,” written by Joseph Haydn
“Divertimento For Winds In B, K240,” written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
“Les Oiseaux Elégants,”written by François Couperin
“L’Apthéose De Lulli,” written by François Couperin
“Les Songes De Dardanus,” written by Jean-Philippe Rameau
“A Knight Riding Through The Glade,” music by Baldassari Galuppi, lyrics by Anne Gyory and Hope Newman
“Love, If You Will Come To Me,” music by Baldassari Galuppi, lyrics by Anne Gyory and Hope Newman
“Pity The Fate,” music by François-André Danican Philidor, lyrics by Anne Gyory and Hope Newman.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
17 November 1989
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 17 November 1989
Production Date:
began August 1988
Copyright Claimant:
Renn Productions
Copyright Date:
5 February 1990
Copyright Number:
PA455273
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® Cameras by Panavision®
Prints
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
134
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
United Kingdom, France, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At a French convent school, Madame de Merteuil informs her cousin, naïve fifteen-year-old Cécile, that her marriage has been arranged. Cécile’s mother, Madame de Volanges, refuses to identify Cécile’s suitor since he prefers to announce the upcoming event himself. However, Mme. de Volanges asks the widow Merteuil to teach her daughter to be more sophisticated. At the opera, Cécile is painfully shy. Merteuil goes to the lobby to chat with Monsieur de Valmont, a former lover, but turns down an invitation to visit at his elderly aunt’s country estate. When Merteuil returns, she warns Cécile that associating with Valmont could ruin her reputation. At a party hosted by her mother, Cécile presses Merteuil to reveal her future husband. When she is introduced, Merteuil is upset to learn that her lover, Monsieur de Gercourt, is Cécile’s intended groom. Merteuil wishes him happiness, and later escapes to the countryside to visit Valmont. There, she proposes that he do her a favor, and seduce Cécile. If the girl loses her virginity before her wedding night, Gercourt will be ridiculed. However, Valmont is attracted to a married guest, Madame de Tourvel, and is not eager to leave. At dinner, the female guests amuse themselves by teasing Tourvel for being apart from her husband, a judge. Several guests wonder aloud if Tourvel would be tempted to have an affair in her husband’s absence, but she evades the question. After dinner, Merteuil insists that Tourvel is too loyal to indulge in a tryst, but Valmont believes he will seduce her, and they agree to a wager. If Valmont wins, he and Merteuil will become lovers again. If she wins, he ... +


At a French convent school, Madame de Merteuil informs her cousin, naïve fifteen-year-old Cécile, that her marriage has been arranged. Cécile’s mother, Madame de Volanges, refuses to identify Cécile’s suitor since he prefers to announce the upcoming event himself. However, Mme. de Volanges asks the widow Merteuil to teach her daughter to be more sophisticated. At the opera, Cécile is painfully shy. Merteuil goes to the lobby to chat with Monsieur de Valmont, a former lover, but turns down an invitation to visit at his elderly aunt’s country estate. When Merteuil returns, she warns Cécile that associating with Valmont could ruin her reputation. At a party hosted by her mother, Cécile presses Merteuil to reveal her future husband. When she is introduced, Merteuil is upset to learn that her lover, Monsieur de Gercourt, is Cécile’s intended groom. Merteuil wishes him happiness, and later escapes to the countryside to visit Valmont. There, she proposes that he do her a favor, and seduce Cécile. If the girl loses her virginity before her wedding night, Gercourt will be ridiculed. However, Valmont is attracted to a married guest, Madame de Tourvel, and is not eager to leave. At dinner, the female guests amuse themselves by teasing Tourvel for being apart from her husband, a judge. Several guests wonder aloud if Tourvel would be tempted to have an affair in her husband’s absence, but she evades the question. After dinner, Merteuil insists that Tourvel is too loyal to indulge in a tryst, but Valmont believes he will seduce her, and they agree to a wager. If Valmont wins, he and Merteuil will become lovers again. If she wins, he will join a monastery and repent for his sins. Back in Paris, Volanges finds love letters written by Cécile’s music teacher, Danceny, that her daughter has hidden in a locked cabinet. When Cécile admits to Merteuil that she is deeply in love with Danceny and shows her a note she intends to send him, Merteuil helps her compose another response that invites him to seduce her. As Merteuil reassures Volanges that her daughter’s flirtations are innocent, she reveals that the love letters are exchanged in the strings of Cécile’s harp. Later, Volanges intercepts Danceny’s letter and confronts her daughter, but Cécile cries and begs forgiveness. Volanges accuses Danceny of abusing her hospitality, warns him not to come back, and demands that he return Cécile’s letters, but he refuses. Although Cécile is punished and forbidden to leave the house for two weeks, Merteuil invites Volanges to the opera, giving Danceny and Cécile the opportunity to meet in secret. Merteuil’s carriage takes Cécile to a lover’s hideaway, where a maid dresses her in seductive lingerie. Danceny arrives with his harp and encourages Cécile to sing. Meanwhile, Volanges leaves the opera early, upset about the rift with her daughter. Merteuil races to get Cécile, Danceny reveals that they want to marry and asks her for help. Volanges discovers her daughter is missing, and she returns to the opera house to find Cécile with Merteuil. She later Volanges wonders if Cécile is ready for marriage, and Merteuil offers to take her to the country for a change of scenery. Valmont continues his conquest of Madame de Tourvel, placing a bow and arrow in her hand. They follow the trajectory of her arrow on horseback until they come to a clearing, where Valmont has arranged a lavish picnic lunch. As they dance, Tourvel suddenly stops and reads a letter from a close friend. Unknown to Valmont, it is a warning that he has used his charm to destroy the honor of hundreds of women. She asks him if the claim is true, and confesses that she could never be disloyal to her husband. As Merteuil arrives with Cécile, Valmont amuses himself playing soldier with the girl, and dancing with the female guests. When Cécile is eager to write Danceny a letter, Merteuil volunteers Valmont’s help. On his way to Cécile’s bedroom, Valmont is interrupted by Tourvel, who begs him to leave because he is wearing down her resistance. She cries and locks herself in her bedroom. Valmont dictates a passionate love letter to Cécile to send to Danceny as he caresses her bottom. As the letter is written, Cécile loses her virginity to Valmont. Scared and confused, she runs to Merteuil. Her older cousin comforts her, and explains her mother must never know. Cécile should be an obedient daughter and marry Gercourt, but take Danceny as her lover. Volanges arrives to collect her daughter, and join the household for breakfast. Valmont suggests that she will ruin Cécile’s life if she allows Gercourt to marry her. However, Cécile insists that she will do whatever her mother thinks is best and take Danceny as a lover. Soon, Tourvel abruptly returns to Paris, but Valmont follows her home. She admires his persistence, and they make love. In the morning, Valmont is annoyed that Tourvel sent a letter to her husband, and confessed to the affair. As she returns from the market, she finds Valmont’s letter revealing that he is unable to change his wicked ways, and hopes that she can find a lover who is worthy of her. As Merteuil bathes, Valmont declares that he has won their bet. He adds that Tourvel is a better lover than Cécile, but not as good as Merteuil. However, she treats the bet as a joke. When Valmont insists on claiming his prize, she teases him by getting out of the bath and spreading her legs on the bed. Valmont is not amused, and Merteuil returns to the bath. She receives a love letter, which he demands to read, but she lets the ink run in the water, and he angrily tips over the tub. Danceny is grateful that Valmont gave him Cécile’s letter, and requests that he deliver a reply. As Valmont helps Cécile, her mother arrives with Gercourt. He presents Cécile with a diamond necklace, and informs her that the king will be a guest at their wedding. After Valmont emerges from hiding, they finish the letter in which Cécile proposes that Danceny remain her lover. In response, Danceny forces Merteuil to compose a letter to Cécile, apologizing for her past advice. She now believes that if Cécile truly loves Danceny, they should marry. At Valmont’s Paris apartment, his servant points out that Tourvel lurks in the street for hours, and will not leave. Valmont invites her into his bed and they make love. When she departs before sunrise, Valmont turns to Merteuil for company. He believes that they should marry, but she wonders who would betray whom first. She then confesses that she likes having someone to keep her secrets, and asks if he would like to see her latest. The doors to her bedroom swing open to reveal Danceny. She orders Valmont to admit that he deflowered Cécile. Declining, Valmont departs before Danceny challenges him to a duel. At the marketplace, Valmont purchases secondhand men’s clothing, then sneaks into the Volanges home and orders Cécile to put on the disguise. Valmont claims he will take her to Danceny in the country, but she has been warned by Merteuil, and refuses to go. As Merteuil steps from behind a closed door, Volanges orders Valmont to leave. Upon returning home, two soldiers inform Valmont that Danceny challenges him to a duel at dawn. Valmont arrives intoxicated with an entourage of drunken witnesses and is killed. At Valmont’s funeral, Cécile confesses to Valmont’s elderly aunt, Madame de Rosemonde, that she is pregnant with his child. The wedding between Gercourt and Cécile takes place as planned. Mme. de Rosemonde gives Cécile a wink as she stands at the altar. Up in the balcony, Danceny flirts with a female guest. Below, Merteuil is haunted by her plans that went awry. Later, Tourvel lays a white rose on Valmont’s grave. +

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

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