translated by Bernard Shir-Cliff
Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Ballantine, New York, 1962
The blurb on the back:
A diamond hard view of seduction, adultery and corruption of the innocent, Les Liaisons Dangereuses is the story of a modern French couple — rich, idle and perverse — who have sworn never to be trapped by love. Though married, they make no pretence of sexual fidelity, instead assisting each other in their adulterous affairs. With cold efficiency and ruthless egotism they stalk their victims, taking lovers, enjoying them and casting them aside.
Choderlos de Laclos’ novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses was one of the triumphs of 18th century French literature, edgy, racy and deeply cynical. And when Stephen Frears’ directed a version of Christopher Hampton’s play from the book in a 1988 film, it was one of the triumphs of 1980s cinema. In between Roger Vadim decided that he’d have a go at it as well and in 1959 knocked out a movie starring Jeanne Moreau and Gérard Philipe.
If you haven’t seen it, you haven’t missed anything. Of interest only to students of European cinema, it was a tepid update of the story that tried to be swinging and shocking and now looks very old-hat indeed; though it was apparently banned in Britain on first release.
This is a copy of the screenplay, accompanied by a couple of hundred stills from the film. They’re not much cop either, I’m afraid and this is about as erotic as you’re going to get:
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: 2/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT: 4/5
Michael de Forrest
The Lickerish Quartet