|LE PLAISIR (HOUSE OF PLEASURE)
(director/writer: Max Ophuls; screenwriters: from three
short stories by Guy
Natanson; cinematographers: Philippe Agostini
("Le Modèle")/Christian Matras ("Le Masque" and "La Maison
Tellier"); editor: Léonide Azar;
music: Joe Hajos;
Dauphin (Le docteur), Gaby Morlay (Denise), Madeleine
Renaud (Julia Tellier), Mila Parely (Madame Raphaele),
Danielle Darrieux (Madame Rosa), Pierre Brasseur (Julien
Ledentu), Jean Gabin (Joseph Rivet), Jean Servais (L'ami
de Jean/Narrator), Daniel Gelin (Jean), Simone Simon
(Josephine), Amedee (Frederic), Jean Galland (Ambroise),
(Constance), Helena Manson (Marie Rivet);
Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Edouard Harispuru/M. Kieffer;
Second Sight Films
DVD PAL; 1952-France-in French with English
"This omnibus of three stories are all conventional ones told in a genteel conventional way, but the camerawork is sensational."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Max Ophuls' ("La Ronde"/"The Earrings of Madame De ..."/"Lola Montes") second film in France after leaving Hollywood, where he resided during World War II. The noted stylistic filmmaker effectively adapts three stories by Maupassant. The theme about the quirks of human nature and vanity runs through the stories. In the film's concluding line it's said by the narrator that: "happiness is not a joyful thing." Jean Servais is the narrator, acting as Maupassant and takes pleasure in telling us such cynical stories about love and passion.
The first story "Le Masque"
is set in Paris at Le Palais de la Danse, where
elderly retired married hairdresser (Jean Galland) wears a mask to appear
young so he can dance with the pretty young girls and
flirt with them and remember how he was a dashing
lover during his youth. When he faints on the dance
floor, a doctor (Claude Dauphin) at the ball treats him and takes him back to
the house where he lives with his long-suffering
stoical wife (Gaby
The second story "La Maison
Tellier" is the longest and is the main story. It
tells of how a brothel without warning closes its
doors Saturday night and the prominent guests in the
small town feel lost without their house of pleasure.
The madame (Madeleine Renaud) takes her jolly
prostitutes to the Normandy countryside to attend the
Communion of her niece (Jocelyne Jany), the daughter of Joseph
Rivet (Jean Gabin), her lecherous carpenter brother.
The whores get emotional about the church ceremony,
and Joseph upsets sis by making a pass at Madame Rosa
It ends on the note that the only way Joseph will
see Rosa again is as a client when he visits the
The third story "La Modele" has the
struggling artist (Daniel Gelin) fall in love
with his attractive model (Simone Simon), and after
selling his first painting they live together in a new
home but they can't stop fighting as familiarity
breeds contempt. The artist intends to leave the model
to marry someone his family approves of, and she
threatens suicide if he doesn't reconsider and marry
her. When he dares her to jump off the roof, she does.
Miraculously she only breaks her legs and remains a
Out of appreciation for the love she showed him by her
daring suicide attempt, he marries her.
This omnibus of three stories are all conventional ones told in a genteel conventional way, but the camerawork is sensational. The work is elevated by Ophuls' usual graceful way of filming and the fine acting by the ensemble cast. It's interesting to note that Stanley Kubrick stated Le Plaisir to be his favorite film.
REVIEWED ON 2/14/2012 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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