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Le Plaisir (The Criterion Collection)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jean Gabin, Danielle Darrieux, Simone Simon, Claude Dauphin, Gaby Morlay
  • Directors: Max Ophüls
  • Writers: Max Ophüls, Guy de Maupassant, Jacques Natanson
  • Producers: Max Ophüls, M. Kieffer, Édouard Harispuru
  • Format: Black & White, Dolby, DVD-Video, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Sept. 16 2008
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B001BEK8BU
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #48,648 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Le produit m'a été livré dans le délai prévu. La qualité mentionnée était exacte. Je suis très satisfait et je recommande fortement ce vendeur. Excellent sur toute la ligne !
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Max Ophuls' marvelous film of pleasure and, perhaps, love June 23 2008
By C. O. DeRiemer - Published on Amazon.com
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. Then Madame decides to close her establishment for a night so that she and her girls can travel into the countryside to attend her niece's first communion. They have one or two adventures on the train. In the small village they spend the night with Madame's brother and meet the young girl. They attend the communion in the village church. They collect flowers on the way back, and are met with genuine affection and with great gaiety when Madame reopens her place of business the following night. We witness a touching story, as de Maupassant tells us, when pleasure and purity come together.

Le Modele gives us a story where pleasure struggles with moral decay, where "happiness is not a joyful thing." We witness a painter and his model meet, rapturously embrace lust and, as lust tires, recrimination grows. The love which endures as the story plays out may not be most people's idea of happiness.

This is a marvelously told series of stories. La Masque and Le Modele are relatively short bookends to the major tale of La Maison Tellier. With this one, it would be difficult not to become delighted and engaged with Madame and her girls and her brother. Even the puffed up townsmen are not without a sympathetic side; which man among us wouldn't mind being flattered, even for a price, by Madame's girls?

In the cast are some of France's best known actors, including Claude Dauphin, Danielle Darrieux, Jean Gabin, Daniel Gelin, Simon Simon, Madeleine Renaud and Pierre Brasseur.

Please note that the Criterion release is not scheduled until September 16, 2008. My comments are based on the Region 2 release which I own. I like this film so well I plan to buy the Criterion Region 1 version when it comes out. After I have a chance to look at Criterion's extras, I'll post an extra paragraph here about them.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Another classic from Ophüls Oct. 19 2008
By Ted - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A distinct pleasure Jan. 10 2009
By JfromJersey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Le Plaisir DVD April 16 2009
By Pamela G. Maher - Published on Amazon.com
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Innocence and shock July 8 2013
By Luc REYNAERT - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
This movie (a triptych) illustrates perfectly the universe and the themes of the great French writer Guy de Maupassant. The film is based on three of his stories: The Mask, The House Tellier and The Model.
Guy de Maupassant is a master in analyzing the love (sex) life of the French bourgeoisie. Males spend their evenings in brothels (`maisons closes' in French), but, when these houses are really 'closed', they fight amongst themselves verbally and physically. Other themes in these stories are innocence and its loss and (the fight against) old age.

The film explains clearly that the triggers which unmask the true nature and the real motives of the protagonists here are shocks, unexpected confrontations and reactions: the shock when the males find their brothels 'closed', the shock when the villagers are confronted with 'beautiful' people from the city, the shock of being remembered of one's innocent life as a young girl, the shock inflicted by an unexpected reaction of a mistress, or the shock when a real mask is taken off one's face.
However, Max Ophüls doesn't explain very well why one of the `city' girls triggers a general sobbing of all those who are attending a Holy Communion Service. Also, the title of the film doesn't cover the essence of its content.

One should read the three stories of Guy de Maupassant after having seen the film.

This film with its perfect casting and a Jean Gabin in great form is a must for all lovers of true French cinema, even if it is shot here by a German.