Temptation (1946 film)


Theatrical release poster
Directed by Irving Pichel
Produced by Edward Small
Screenplay by Robert Thoeren
Based on Novel: Bella Donna
by Robert Smythe Hichens
Play: Bella Donna
by James B. Fagan
Starring Merle Oberon
George Brent
Music by Daniele Amfitheatrof
Cinematography Lucien Ballard
Edited by Ernest J. Nims
International Pictures
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • December 2, 1946 (1946-12-02) (United States)
Running time
98 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1.6 million[1]

Temptation is a 1946 American drama film noir directed by Irving Pichel. The drama features Merle Oberon and George Brent. The film was based on Robert Smythe Hichens's novel Bella Donna.[2]

The 1923 film Bella Donna, starring Pola Negri, which was directed by George Fitzmaurice[3] is also based on that novel. Other versions were filmed in 1918 and 1935.


Victorian melodrama, set in Egypt, where a down-on-her-luck courtesan (Oberon) snares a loving but naive Egyptologist (Brent), marries him and moves to Egypt. She quickly becomes bored and embarks on an affair with Mamhoud Baroudi (Korvin). She falls in love with him, and together, they plot to do away with her husband.



The movie was the first producer Edward Small had made away from United Artists for a number of years.[4] He bought the rights to the novel in 1941 intending to make it as a vehicle for Ilona Massey who had just made International Lady for him.[5][6] He intended to make the film for United Artists but other projects took priority. Over a five year period there were several near-starts and postponements; he almost managed to begin production in February 1946 but there was not enough studio space. Small's deal with United Artists expired so the film became the first shot at Universal by International under the new United World Pictures arrangement.[1]


Film critic Bosley Crowther panned the film when it was released, writing "True enough, Miss Oberon looks lovely, Mr. Korvin behaves with bold sang-froid and George Brent is sufficiently unimpressive to seem a husband that a dame would double-cross. Paul Lucas, Arnold Moss and Lenore Ulric also act as though they thought they had a script. But the whole thing is as claptrap in its nature as it was when Pola Negri played it back in 1923."[7]

Variety magazine panned the screenplay, writing "Production is well-stacked with solid values in every department except for the screenplay, which falls short in its attempt to stretch an unsubstantial story line over so long a running time."[8]


  1. 1 2 THE HOLLYWOOD WIRE: In the Clear MORE HOLLYWOOD ITEMS By Meets Girl By FRED STANLEY. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 05 May 1946: X1
  2. Temptation at the Internet Movie Database.
  3. Bella Donna at the Internet Movie Database
  4. MICHAEL TODD SET TO FILM 'GREAT SON': Ferber Novel Will Be His First Universal Picture--Hellinger Acquires 'Criss-Cross' "Variety Girl" Planned Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 04 June 1946: 33.
  5. The THEATRE: Entertainment Notes Wall Street Journal (1923 - Current file) [New York, N.Y] 03 July 1941: 13.
  6. SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: Monty Woolley to Repeat His Role in 'The Man Who Came to Dinner' for Warners PICTURE TO BE HELD OVER ' Blossoms in the Dust' to Run Second Week at Music Hall -- French Films Revived By DOUGLAS W. CHURCHILLSpecial to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 01 July 1941: 27.
  7. Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times, film review, December 25, 1946. Last accessed: February 25, 2011.
  8. Variety, film review, December 2, 1946. Last accessed: February 25, 2011.
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