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The Diary of a Chambermaid (1946 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Diary of a Chambermaid
Directed byJean Renoir
Screenplay byBurgess Meredith
Based onthe novel by Octave Mirbeau
and the play by André Heuse, André de Lorde, and Thielly Nores
Produced byBenedict Bogeaus
Burgess Meredith
Paulette Goddard (uncredited)
StarringPaulette Goddard
Burgess Meredith
Hurd Hatfield
Francis Lederer
CinematographyLucien Andriot
Edited byJames Smith
Music byMichel Michelet
Benedict Bogeaus Productions
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • February 15, 1946 (1946-02-15) (United States)
Running time
87 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Diary of a Chambermaid is a 1946 American drama film about a newly hired servant who severely disrupts a wealthy family. The film was based on the 1900 novel of the same name by Octave Mirbeau and the play Le journal d'une femme de Chambre, written by André de Lorde, with André Heuse and Thielly Nores. The film was directed by Jean Renoir, and starred Paulette Goddard, Burgess Meredith, Hurd Hatfield, and Francis Lederer.[1] It was named the eighth best English-language film of 1946 by the National Board of Review.[2]

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In 1885 France, chambermaid Celestine begins her new position at the Lanlaire family home, a rural mansion, with the intention of moving up the social ladder. She starts working on her new employer, Monsieur Lanlaire, and he soon takes a liking to her, preferring her company to that of his domineering wife. Soon the eccentric neighbor, Captain Mauger becomes quite obsessed with having her working for him instead, and offers to marry her as reward for her coming to live with him, which would give her considerable wealth. Monsieur Lanlaire's sickly son Georges temporarily returns home to the estate, and in an attempt to make him stay longer, his mother does her best to make the attractive Celestine more beautiful by buying her fancy clothes, and orders her to take extra good care of her son.

Still, Georges makes plans to go back to Paris, and the desperate Madame Lanlaire orders Celestine, dressed only in her nightgown, to bring Georges some broth in his room. Georges realizes that his mother is trying to trick him into staying, and Celestine draws the same conclusion. Upset with Madame Lanlaire's attempts to manipulate her, Celestine quits her job and tries to catch a ride into town with the valet Joseph. He tells her of his plans to steal the silverware on Bastille Day, a few days away, and persuades Celestine to remain in the household as his accomplice.

Madame Lanlaire eavesdrops on their conversation and spoils the valet's plan. Instead, he starts planning to steal Captain Mauger's hidden money. While the captain is out celebrating, Joseph searches his house, and when the captain comes back and catches him red-handed, Joseph is forced to kill the captain to get away. Joseph tells the Lanlaires he intends to leave his position and marry Celestine, and Madame Lanlaire is overjoyed. She realizes her son Georges has fallen in love with Celestine. She agrees to give Joseph the silverware if he leaves the estate and takes Celestine with him. When Joseph and Celestine get delayed because of the celebrating crowds in the village, Georges manages to catch up with them, determined to win Celestine back. Joseph and Georges fight each other; Joseph is killed. Georges and Celestine go away together.


Critical reception

On the film's original release, Variety wrote "This is an odd yarn, the type done so well by the French – and so falteringly by almost anyone else. Diary in its American form has not nearly the intrigue, nor the color, suggested by the original French version, but it has names and an interest all its own."[3]

See also

Further reading

  • Tibbetts, John C., and James M. Welsh, eds. The Encyclopedia of Novels Into Film (2nd ed. 2005) pp 96–98.

External links


  1. ^ "The Diary of a Chambermaid (1946)". BFI. Archived from the original on December 8, 2017.
  2. ^ Awards for 1946 National Board of Review. Archived May 26, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Diary of a Chambermaid". Variety. January 1, 1946.
This page was last edited on 15 October 2023, at 18:48
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