Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Warner Archive Wednesday ~ Death of a Soundrel (1956)

"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.


  1. This looks interesting! I love the cast. I'll make a note to check it out in the future.

    I think Yvonne DeCarlo was a wonderful lady, onscreen and off -- hope you'll enjoy more of her work in the future.

    Looking forward to more Warner Archive Wednesdays!

    Best wishes,

  2. I have this one recorded but haven't had a chance to watch yet. Thanks for moving it up my viewing list!

    As if the Sanders family affair didn't have me the comp to Gordon Gekko totally sold me!

    Sadly I know Yvonne De Carlo best as Lily Munster, but she was wonderful in a featured role in Band of Angels where she's a light skinned slave that Clark Gable owns ... and loves. Been thinking of catching some more with her lately after handling a big batch of late 40's stills that picture her in a couple of Westerns from that period. She was a beauty!

  3. I highly recommend Yvonne in THE GAL WHO TOOK THE WEST which sadly isn't on DVD (at least yet). I also love BUCCANEER'S GIRL which is on DVD. In both films she does it all -- beautiful, funny, sings. She was very self-assured yet never seemed egotistical. I've read stories that offscreen she was a very kind woman, easy to work with. She had to cope with adversity when her stuntman husband was seriously injured making HOW THE WEST WAS WON -- she took THE MUNSTERS in order to support her family.

    I need to see BAND OF ANGELS, Cliff!

    Getting back to DEATH OF A SCOUNDREL, I love that Sanders and Conway were in it together. I got a kick out of Sanders handing off the FALCON series to Conway. I noticed Conway really aged between his mid '40s movies and the early '50s film CONFIDENCE GIRL (which is on Netflix streaming).

    Best wishes,

  4. This looks interesting! I'll have to keep an eye out for it.
    -Andi x


Leave me a comment! If it is a long one, make sure you save a draft of it elsewhere just in case Google gobbles it up and spits it out.

Popular Posts

 Twitter   Instagram   Facebook