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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Private Affairs of Bel Ami [Blu-ray]

 

(Albert Lewin, 1947)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: United Artists

Video: Olive Films

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:51:46.741

Disc Size: 24,766,466,155 bytes

Feature Size: 24,646,072,320 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.99 Mbps

Chapters: 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 24th, 2016

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1804 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1804 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English, None

 

Extras:

• None

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: George Sanders (All About Eve) is at his wicked best in The Private Affairs of Bel Ami, based on the novel Bel Ami by Guy de Maupassant and directed by Albert Lewin (The Picture of Dorian Gray).

The opportunistic, womanizing Parisian journalist, Georges Duroy (Sanders), known to the women who love him as Bel Ami, uses his charms to climb the ladder of Paris society while discarding those whose usefulness has run its course. Using those around him to further his aspirations, Georges will find in his friend and former fellow soldier, Charles Forestier (John Carradine, The Grapes of Wrath) a benefactor whose kindness he ll reward with betrayal.

The women who travel in and out of Georges s life include Charles s wife, Madeleine (Ann Dvorak, Flame of Barbary Coast), the beautiful and blinded-by-love Clotilde de Marelle (Angela Lansbury,
The Picture of Dorian Gray) and the lovely young heiress Suzanne Walter (Susan Douglas, The Outside Chance of Maximilian Glick).

Director Lewin (Pandora and the Flying Dutchman) weaves a compelling tale of love and deception in The Private Affairs of Bel Ami, co-starring Warren William (Strange Illusion), Frances Dee (Mister Scoutmaster), Hugo Haas (King Solomon's Mines), Albert Bassermann (Foreign Correspondent) in a film photographed in silky black & white tones by Academy Award winner Russell Metty (Spartacus).

 

 

The Film:

Writer/director Albert Lewin, ever on the lookout for esoteric story material that would accommodate his fascination with Egyptian sculpture and feline symbolism, managed to inject both into The Private Affairs of Bel Ami. Though based on a Guy de Maupassant story, Bel Ami seems to have been written by Oscar Wilde, another of Lewin's pets (e.g. The Picture of Dorian Gray). George Sanders plays an epigrammatic Parisian journalist, who rises to the top through the "kindnesses" of the various influential women that he's seduced and abandoned. This 19th-century rake's progress is ultimately halted by a duel, and somehow we're sorry that we don't get to see Sanders pull off at least one more caddish trick to save himself. Echoes from Lewin's previous works include his insertion of a Technicolor sequence (as he'd done in Dorian Gray and The Moon and Sixpence). George Sanders' stepping-stone ladies include Angela Lansbury, Frances Dee, Ann Dvorak, Marie Wilson, Katherine Emery and Susan Douglas.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Georges (George Sanders) is a womanizer out to increase his social status. He attends a party with his friend Charles (John Carradine) and Charles' wife, Madeleine (Ann Dvorak). There, he meets Madeleine's friend Clotilde de Marelle (Angela Lansbury). Clotilde and Georges fall in love, but when Charles dies Georges marries Madeleine for her money. He then frames Madeleine for adultery, and marries Suzanne Walter (Susan Douglas), but his social climbing catches up with him after they divorce.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Private Affairs of Bel Ami arrives on Blu-ray from Olive Films. This is only single-layered and but the 1080P exports plenty of texture and the light and shadow contrast in Russell Metty's (Arch of Triumph, All That Heaven Allows, Ride the Pink Horse) cinematography looks beautiful. There is modest depth but this is all very film-like with a couple of scenes having heavier scratches (see sample below.) The Blu-ray improved the presentation over an SD rendering and I was very pleased with the HD presentation.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Light scratches

 

 

Audio :

Audio is transferred to a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1804 kbps (24-bit). There is a score by Darius Milhaud (his score on Marcel L'Herbier's 1942 L'Inhumaine apparently 'lost') It has notable moments with subtle depth and dialogue is consistent and audible. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

Extras :

No supplements - not even a trailer which is the bare-bones route that Olive are going with the majority of their releases.

 

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
The Private Affairs of Bel Ami is an exceptional film. Director Lewin is fabulous at the literary adaptations. As it states in the opening screen - 'this is the history of a scoundrel'! Sanders is a little 'stayed' but Lansbury is hypnotic. The Blu-ray is typically bare-bones and offers a very satisfying 1080P presentation. I was highly impressed with the film. Strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

May 15th, 2016

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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