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Marie wants to escape from her job and also from her lover, Paul, an unemployed drunk. She dreams of going off with Jean, a dockworker. The two men quarrel and fight over Marie on two occasions, but Paul retains a hold over her. Marie has a baby who falls ill and as time goes on Jean and a crippled neighbor try to help the child. Paul nearly causes the death of the child whilst in a drunken stupor and in a final struggle that occurs, the crippled woman seizes Paul's gun and shoots him dead. Written by
"Coeur Fidèle" is a very simple story:Marie 's in love with Jean,but she is forced to marry Petit Paul,who,in spite of his name ,is an alcoholic brute.
Epstein's script was probably inspired by the novelists from the nineteenth century,probably Victor Hugo and Emile Zola.Marie is nobody's child:she was brought up by a shrew and her husband who never showed some affection to her:she is akin to Cosette or Fantine in "les Miserables ".Petit Paul seems to come from Zola's "L'Assommoir" the seventh volume in the Rougon-Macquart saga.
Marie and Jean are unfortunate lovers ;Jean is a good man,in the noblest
sense of the word .Epstein's closest relative in the cinema field is Frank Borzage in "Coeur Fidele",with whom he shares the same fascination for the fair and the merry-go-rounds (see "little man what now?") Like Abel Gance ,Epstein was a pioneer: the scene on the fairground has a sense of madness which makes the viewer dizzy ;it predates Hitchcock's experimentations in "Strangers on a train" by thirty years.For that scene alone,the movie would be essential viewing;with the addition of another extraordinary scene when the crippled girl,whose crutch has been crushed by a car crawls all along the way to save her friends,it becomes a major twenties French classic.
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