The French writer Guy de Maupassant has inspired many great filmmakers. Among those to adapt his short stories and novels were Jean-Luc Godard, Kenji Mizoguchi, Walerian Borowczyk, Harry Kümel, Luis Buñuel and Christian-Jacque. But it was arguably Max Ophuls, with his 1952 feature, Le Plaisir, who proved to be the most adept.
Le Plaisir takes three of de Maupassant’s stories as its source: in Le Masque, a masked dandy conceals a secret; in La Maison Tellier, the girls of a small-town brothel are taken on an outing to attend the communion of the madam’s niece; and in La Modèle, a painter falls in love with his model, but the course of love isn’t as smooth as either expected.
To tell these tales, Ophuls assembled a remarkable cast of French talent, including Jean Gabin (Pépé le Moko, La Grande Illusion), Pierre Brasseur (Eyes Without a Face, Spotlight on a Murderer), Danielle Darrieux (Madame de…, Les Demoiselles de Rochefort), Claude Dauphin (Casque d’Or, Barbarella), Simone Simon (Cat People, La Ronde) and many more besides.
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