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Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams
A Lucid Reflection About Political Ambition And The Fascination Of Power
There is only one thing more dangerous than a broken down aristocrat: a newly rich one. The former will try to restore his grandeur by taking advantage of any poor Teutonic heiress and the latter will do .. basically the same thing.
"Les Nouveaux Messieurs" (1929), a film directed by the great French film director Herr Jacques Feyder, illustrates what this Herr Graf just mentioned, namely the fascination that power holds for the middle class and how anyone who rises to a new level on the social scale will do anything to maintain his new privileges.
And that's precisely what happens to Herr Gaillac ( Herr Albert Préjean ), the chief electrician who works at the Theater of the Opera in Paris, a middle class worker who has also an active and remarkable role as a trade union leader. Also at the Opera is Frau Verrier ( Frau Gaby Morlay ), a mediocre ballerina who owes her scarce merits and career to the Count de Montoire ( Herr Henry Roussel ), an important aristocrat and politician ( right party, obviously ). Count de Montoire hopes to raise the career prospects of his protégée and of course showers luxuries and expensive presents on her. The union trade leader and the clumsy ballerina will meet and fall in love and the life of Herr Gaillac will change dramatically when an important strike at the Opera succeeds and the electrician becomes a noted political leader (left party, obviously) in the Parliament where the Count de Montoire also has a seat.
"Les Nouveaux Messieurs" is a lucid reflection about political ambition and the fascination of power and the way that this affects the former convictions of middle class workers.
The film reflects the struggle of workers and peasants to improve their lot in contrast to the excesses and extravagant life styles of the upper classes. This of course is equally valid today when the exclusive privileges of the ruling classes are harshly questioned by the middle class in this time of social and economic upheaval.
Herr Feyder dissects the process that turns Herr Gaillac from an active trade union leader to a strong political leader with all the contradictions that this fascination with power entails. Frau Verrier seems mostly concerned with her own pampered status and who can best keep her in the luxury she has become accustomed to. Finally though she has to choose when Herr Galliac is given an assignment outside the country, an offer he must accept. Being a very practical fraulein she then picks the Count since economic security and stability seem uncertain in a distant country.
The direction of the actors by Herr Feyder is, as always, remarkable and they play their parts in a subtle and effective manner. They are supported by the excellent art direction and a strong narrative that perfectly calculates the dynamism of events. Especially noteworthy are the Parliament sequences where the different parties fight over political matters.
"Les Nouveaux Messieurs" is another excellent picture by Herr Feyder, a lucid reflection about political ambition and power, a subject always in fashion due to the ambitions of human beings (and of course there's corruption and bribery as well but that's another story).
And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count has a date with his protégée, a rich Teutonic heiress, naturlich!.
Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com
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