"Business is the art of getting something for nothing" - Clementi Sabourin (George Sanders)
Death of a Scoundrel (1956) is a wonderful B movie directed by Charles Martin and starring my beloved George Sanders. Sanders, known for playing rapscallions and cads very well, was a perfect fit to play the title role of Clementi Sabourin. Clementi (Sanders) is a Czech refugee who has escaped to America, which he sees as a land of milk and honey. And rightly so because with a lot of machination and scheming, Clementi goes from rags to riches in a very short period of time.
The beginning of the film shows Clementi dead and sprawled on a bed in his mansion. As the film progresses we learn about the events that led to his untimely (or one could argue very timely) demise. Death of a Scoundrel is definitely a family affair. Sanders' then wife Zsa Zsa Gabor plays Mrs. Ryan, a wealthy widow who does some insider trading with the stock savvy Clementi. Their relationship is a strange mixture of business and pleasure. Sanders' real life brother Tom Conway plays a very small role as his on screen Gerry Monte/Sabourin. Both stars are past their prime but the years have really done a toll to poor Tom Conway's features. He looks so sad and lost and you can't help but feel sympathy for both the character and what his brother does to him as well as the actor himself.
Also in the film is Yvonne De Carlo, an actress I was not familiar with but was happy to watch on screen. As the film progresses, her character Bridget Kelly goes from a poor pick-pocket to a glamorous business woman. Bridget is the most interesting of all the characters as you see her develop whereas a lot of the other characters stay as they are.
One could say that Clementi (Sanders) was the original Gordon Gekko (Wall Street). He's motivated solely by greed. Clementi is a businessman, schemer, womanizer, gambler, risk taker, manipulator, in other words, he's a shark. George Sanders will make you an offer you cannot refuse.
Mrs. Ryan (Gabor): Money is not Everything
Clementi (Sanders): But it's the closest thing to it.
Often times, overly dramatic acting comically competes with a movie's plot line. In this instance, the dramatics were as fun to watch as the story itself. Both Carlos and I immensely enjoyed this film and I would recommend it to those who enjoy watching schemers play.
Warner Archive Wednesday - On (random) Wednesdays, I review one title from the Warner Archive Collection. Movies selected are rented from Classicflix or purchased from Warner Archive, Classicflix or TCM.