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Le Plaisir (1952)

Jean Gabin , Simone Simon , Max Ophuls  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jean Gabin, Simone Simon, Danielle Darrieux
  • Directors: Max Ophuls
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: September 16, 2008
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001BEK8BU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,477 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Le Plaisir" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Roving with his dazzlingly mobile camera around the decadent ballrooms, bucolic countryside retreats, urban bordellos, and painter's studios of late nineteenth-century Parisian society, Max Ophuls brings his astonishing visual dexterity and storytelling bravura to this triptych of tales by Guy de Maupassant about the limits of spiritual and physical pleasure. Featuring a stunning cast of French stars (including Danielle Darrieux, Jean Gabin, and Simone Simon), Le plaisir pinpoints the cruel ironies and happy compromises of life with a charming and sophisticated breeziness. SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES:New, restored high-definition digital transfer, Introduction by filmmaker Todd Haynes, English- and German-language versions of the opening narration, From Script to Screen, a video essay featuring film scholar Jean-Pierre Berthome discussing the evolution of Ophuls's screenplay for Le plaisir, Interviews with actor Daniel Gelin, assistant director Tony Aboyantz, and set decorator Robert Christides, New and improved English subtitle translation. PLUS: A new essay by film critic Robin Wood.


Brilliant. --Boston Phoenix

Shot with supreme elegance. --Time Out

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The screen is pitch black and we hear a voice..."I'm so happy to be talking in the dark as if I were beside you, and maybe I am." The speaker is Guy de Maupassant (voiced by Jean Marais), and Le Plaisir is three of his stories filmed by the great director Max Ophuls. The connecting thread? That pleasure, or even love, lies in how people intermingle their lives, with a shrug, assumptions, an apology, a thank you. Le Plaisir is not so much a sophisticated film of attraction and hope as it is a film of rueful wisdom. It's best to keep in mind while watching this movie that while life can be enjoyed, there are times when hope can disappear.

The three stories consist of, first, La Masque. We are in 19th Century Paris at the Palais de la Dance, where great, swirling balls are held. This is a place where young women hope to find pleasure and rich men; where old women chase memories and young suitors; where prostitutes and their pimps gather, where the men are young bucks and old goats, where "rough cotton to the finest cambric" can combine. One slender man in full dinner dress rushes into the palace and begins to dance with a beautiful young woman. He prances and kicks, yet his face is like a frozen mask of youth. He collapses on the dance floor and a doctor is called. When the doctor loosens the man's clothes, he finds...well, let's say that when the man is delivered home to his wife by the doctor, she tells him a story of the battle between pleasure and love.

In La Maison Tellier, we learn all about a cozy, friendly and long established brothel in a small town on the Channel coast. The bourgeois men of the town are as well-known there as they are to their wives.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another classic from Ophüls October 19, 2008
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.

Le Plaisir, meaning "pleasure" is a film based on three stories by Guy de Maupassant. Le Masque, La Maison Tellier, and Le Modèle.

In the first story, Le Masque, an elderly man hides his age with a mask and goes to a ball and dances energetically with a woman and he later falls down in exaustion. In the second story, La Maison Tellie, the women and madam of a brother go on a field trip. In the third story, Le Modèle, a woman falls in love with a male artist whom she poses for.

I found the film to be entertaining and liked the opening sequence with the old man in the mask.

The DVD has some great supplements too which are quite good. Todd Haynes gives an introduction to the film, also is a video slideshow with narration which provides the transition of the film from its script to its production, there are also interviews with actor Daniel Gélin, and crewmembers, Tony Aboyantz, and Robert Christidès. There are also alternate language versions of the opening narration in English and German.

This is a film that you won't want to miss.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A distinct pleasure January 10, 2009
When Max Ophuls returned to France after his engagement in Hollywood, he made his last 4 pictures..LA RONDE, LE PLAISIR, THE EARRINGS OF MADAME DE.., and LOLA MONTES. Each was a masterpiece. Some critics list LOLA and MADAME DE as the best films ever made. Of the 4, LE PLAISIR is the least well known or acknowleged, but it has all the hallmarks of a great Ophuls movie..the distinctive and elegant camera movements, attention to detail, superb casts, depth of feeling, moral complexity, and strong feminist viewpoint.

The film is based on 3 stories by Guy de Maupassant..The Mask, The Tellier House, and The Model (which replaced a different story that had a more risque plot). The central story of The Tellier House is the main one, and is framed by the 2 shorter ones. All the stories are tales about male/female relationships, where the women are in a sense willing victims of the men. Victims might be the wrong word, because although outwardly, they are subordinate, trapped in cages by circumstance and dependent relationships, inwardly, they are mentally and emotionally braver and stronger than the men they are attached to. Each story is beautifully filmed and has visually breathtaking moments. In The Mask, it's the tracking shot in the ballroom leading up to the frenetic entrance of the masked reveler. In The Tellier House, the opening sequence slowly peering through the caged windows of the bordello, and the scene in the country church when Madame Rosa's weeping becomes contagious. In The Model, the staircase scenes where Jean and Josephine first meet, the fight that the camera fluidly follows through a number of rooms, and the final flight of Josephine up the stairs and to her destiny.

As usual, the extras on this Criterion set are praiseworthy, including a booklet, an introductory filmed essay by the noted director Todd Haynes (best seen after the movie),and several interviews with notables involved in the making of LE PLAISIR. All in all a real pleasure.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Le Plaisir DVD April 16, 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I love the films of Max Ophüls; he has such a way with the camera. This B&W French film from 1952 is particularly tricky because the camera is always in motion. The story is made up of 3 vingettes having to do with pleasure, and perhaps the price that is sometimes paid for pleasure. I like The Earrings of Madame de... more, but this is a good one to add to your collection.
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