Death of a Scoundrel (Diary of a Scoundrel) (Loves of a Scoundrel) (1956)
A contemptuous and self-serving immigrant, Clementi Sabourin pulls himself up by his bootstraps by bilking several very wealthy persons out of most of their money. Most of the film's action is related in a series of flashbacks after Sabourin's body is found dead in a Park Avenue apartment.
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Clementi Sabourin is one of cinema's greatest characters and George Sanders makes sure of it in a performance that, in my humble opinion, is just as strong as Orson Welles's Citizen Kane. George Sanders was a classic Hollywood hell raiser, whether it was an act or not, his performances are still unmatched in their effortless superiority. Why isn't Death of a Scoundrel more universally celebrated, I honestly don't know. It could have and should have been a little bit more gritty but a more noir style wouldn't have suited it. Maybe it should have been grander, truth be told another director probably could have given it that extra something but all credit to Charles Martin, his idea was his own and he did a fantastic job. The performances are the important element anyway, George Sanders, Yvonne De Carlo, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Victor Jory and Nancy Gates are all immaqulate in their performances. Serge Rubenstein, whose life the film is based on, may have invented modern crime but George Sanders brought life to it and made it one of the best crime stories of all time. The thinking man's Scarface.
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