There are multiple movie versions of Bel Ami, based on the story by Guy de Maupassant, one of my favorite writers, but THIS one happens to have a young Angela Lansbury as the lovelorn Clothilde, and George Sanders as the status-and-power craving Bel Ami. Looking both handsome and a bit Snidely Whiplash, eh?
and one of my favorite actors of the era, Warren William in a small role as Laroche-Mathieu.
The plot is straightforward: Bel Ami moves himself up the social ladder by marriage and deceit. Callous and plotting to the point of psychopathy, he is loved faithfully by Clothilde. She sees his villainy and calls him out for it. His downfall (not a spoiler, we know it’s coming) arises when he attempts to buy what he believes is an available title of an aristocratic family. As noted in the plot synopsis on the Internet Movie Database page, “The moral, at the end, is it is okay to mess with French women, but trifling with French titles is going too far.”
Credit: Les Adams: <a href="http://http://<firstname.lastname@example.org>