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Arthur von Gerlach
"Coeur de Lilas " is a worthwhile find.Its screenplay is original and its directing is often brilliant.
The movie begins and ends with a military parade:in the neighborhood,brats are doing the same till one of them says he has enough with soldiers and they play cops and robbers ...just to discover a dead body on the "Fortifications" (which do not exist anymore in Paris nowadays).The "game "subject will return as Jean Gabin and his pals do a travesty of a trial and in the last pictures when one of the kids says " a cop must not be moved",actually the moral of the story.
The first scenes of "Coeur de Lilas" suffer from an old-fashioned theatrical acting but as soon it takes place in the greasy spoon where Gabin and chanteuse Frehel sing "la Môme Caoutchouc" ( =rubber gal),the film hits its stride .Many of its elements would emerge again in other more famous French movies or in Litvak's future career.
-The bad gal falling in love with an undercover policeman (and sighing :"I wish there were not so many cops in this world":of course she does not know his true identity)who tries to worm information out of her would be used by Pierre Chenal in his "l'Alibi" (1937) -The guinguettes down by the river Marne where Fernandel (in one of his smallest part of a best man) sings for the bride would be a permanent feature of the French film noir :see "la Belle Equipe" (1936) by Duvivier and Becker's "Casque d'Or" (1952) -The desperate lovers surrounded by a farandole ,it's already the ending of "Les Enfants du Paradis" in miniature.
-The hallucinations during the heroine's running already display the director's interest in madness ("the snake pit",1946)
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