The basic story, by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, is well known to most of us: A merchant (Marcel André) steals a rose from an estate owned by a beastly looking character. The Beast (Jean Marais) tells the merchant that he will spare his life if one of his daughters can stand in for him. The merchant reluctantly offers up his daughter Belle (Josette Day). She enters the Beast's world completely afraid of him but in time she grows to pity and then understand him. Ultimately she falls in love with him for his inner beauty rather than his external ugliness. And just about the time she accepts him for his ugly nature, he turns into a prince.
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