Le Plaisir (1952)

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Director: Max Ophuls
Cast: Claude Dauphin, Gaby Morlay, Danielle Darrieux, Jean Gabin, Simone Simon, Jean Servais, Daniel Gélin, Madeleine Renaud

Synopsis

Three stories of carnal pleasure by Guy de Maupassant are adapted for the screen: Le Masque, La Maison Tellier and Le Modèle.

The Review

Two short pieces bookend the one-hour long story of a brothel madame who takes her girls to a confirmation party at her brother's in the country, much to the chagrin of her steadfast clientèle. In the first an old roué goes dancing with a mask on to hide his advanced years, and in the last an artist falls for a model but then tires of her and tries to drop her. Throughout the author's ironic observation of humanity's fumbling after the joys and lusts of youth is present, as is his evident complicity in the enjoyment of such pleasures whenever occasion arises; there is also a sentimentality uncharacteristic of his work in the middle story's description of prostitutes weeping at the church, an act which, unlike in Boule de Suif, elicits the sympathetic snifflings of the rest of the congregation. Not its maker's best work, though there is some characteristically elegant tracking around elaborate sets and Darrieux is delightful.