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Dangerous Liaisons 1960 [VHS]

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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(Nov 13, 1990)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Jeanne Moreau, Gérard Philipe, Annette Stroyberg, Madeleine Lambert, Jeanne Valérie
  • Directors: Roger Vadim
  • Writers: Roger Vadim, Choderlos de Laclos, Claude Brulé, Roger Vailland
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC, Full Screen
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Kino International
  • VHS Release Date: November 13, 1990
  • Run Time: 106 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6301910338
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #305,656 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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Format: VHS Tape
This one is up there with Stephen Frears' version starring Glen Close and John Malkovich and is in some ways even better. Most of Vadim's films are laughed at today and people tend to throw this one in with the rest, which is a mistake. Chaderlos de Laclos' sensibility is very close to what Vadim imagined himself to be at the time, or at least was striving for, before he sold-out and became a completely insignificant director. This film was his last try at something approaching integrity and he seems to have given it his all, because the results are more than a little magnificent.
First of all, the fabulous Jeanne Moreau is at the peak of her career in this film, and she just absolutely OWNS her role, even more so than Glen Close did in the Frears version, radiating a mixture of evil and sensuality and whimsical decadence that's hard to describe but easy to be completely fascinated by on the screen. Also, Gerard Phillipe, the 'James Dean of France' who was known as one of the most wooden actors of his generation (for proof of this woodenness in a GREAT film that transcends Phillipe's acting limitations, check out Jacques Becker's MODIGLIANI, MONTPARNASSE 19), finally comes into his own on this film (his last before he died), and gives a magnificent nuanced performance, full of decadent amorality. The influence of the New-Wave is all over the film, as it was enjoying the only commercial successes it was to have at the time in films like "The 400 Blows," and "Breathless." Phillipe would've adjusted himself to these types of films had he lived just fine, if his performance here is any indication, and Moreau is a complete natural in the freer more neo-realist inspired mise-en-scenes of all the younger directors.
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Format: VHS Tape
Though less slick than a Hollywood production, this is a subtle and moving update of the 18C novel of aristocratic intrigue. It has some of the best acting that French cinema has to offer, with Jeanne Moreau, Gérard Philipe, and the astonishingly beautiful Annette Vadim. Valmont, in this version, is a young diplomat, a product of the most elite French schools. He has a cynical partnership with his wife, Cécile (Moreau in a perfect casting) in which they play at sex and love, which they record in letters, disregarding the damage they wreak. They set out on vacation, setting a goal of seduction of Valmont's young cousin, but finding a surprise along the way, a young Danish woman of impeccable character whom Valmont decides to have. Of course, he can't handle genuine emotion, and it ruins everything for themselves and those they touched.

As a long-time American transplant in France, this film was a particular pleasure. I went to the school (Sciences Po) that this Valmont did and it is a good reflection of the milieu at the time, when France was brash and young, the economy booming, and everyone was obsessed with style and the pursuit of personal pleasure. The vacation setting (Megève) is even near to where I now live, the perfect resort playground for this vanished elite. The film portrays this section of bourgeois society with great accuracy and panache. The music script is also wonderful, mostly Thelonius Monk, but the jazz of that time permeates the mood of the film; it is pure gorgeousity.

If there is a criticism I have of the film, it is the light Hollywoodish moralizing at the end. Nonetheless, I recommend this with enthusiasm. Too bad it is not available on dvd.
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