In Vadim's rendition, Valmont (Gérard Philipe) is married to Juliette de Merteuil (Jeanne Moreau), and together they get their kicks by preying on the weaknesses of other high-society types. Juliette sets her sights on Cecile (Jeanne Valérie), soon to be married to someone who has crossed her in the past, and sets Vamont onto turning the innocent (but naive and manipulatable) girl into a sexpot-in-training. Meanwhile, Valmont falls in love with the genuinely virtuous Marianne (Annette Vadim), and a love-quadrangle soons spins out of control.
The film has a few key departures -- and a somewhat more satisfying ending -- that make it worthwhile, even if you've seen the three other major adaptations of the infamous book. Philipe is the most effective member of the cast -- the three female leads don't really distinguish themselves from each, with the mild exception of Moreau, who's always worth watching in anything she does. The soundtrack by Thelonious Monk is outstanding, worth listening to even if the film itself doesn't interest you.
Whether the film's "liaisons" manage to titillate you is debatable. The book's darkness and cynicism are largely lost here, and the actors play their characters far too sweetly. By the last act, few surprises remain in store for us, though it's been a considerably pleasant (and very French) experience in getting there.
Run time: 106 mins
In Theaters: Monday 18th December 1961
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
IMDB: 6.9 / 10
Director: Roger Vadim
Producer: Léopold Schlosberg
Starring: Gérard Philipe as Valmont, Jeanne Moreau as Juliette Valmont, Jeanne Valérie as Cécile Volange, Annette Stroyberg as Marianne Tourvel, Simone Renant as Mme Volange, mère de Cécile, Jean-Louis Trintignant as Danceny, Nicolas Vogel as Jerry Court, Madeleine Lambert as Mme Rosemonde, Boris Vian as Prévan, Gillian Hills as une amie de Cécile