César runs a bar along Marseilles' port, assisted by his 23 year old son, Marius. Colorful characters abound: M. Panisse, an aging widower and prosperous sail maker; Honorine, a fishmonger ... See full summary »
César runs a bar along Marseilles' port, assisted by his 23 year old son, Marius. Colorful characters abound: M. Panisse, an aging widower and prosperous sail maker; Honorine, a fishmonger with a sidewalk stall near the bar; her daughter, Fanny, who helps her sell cockles; and, various old salts. Friends since childhood, Fanny and Marius love each other, but Marius has a secret wanderlust: every ship's whistle stirs a longing for foreign lands. When M. Panisse seeks Fanny's hand in marriage and when a departing clipper needs a deckhand, Marius and Fanny must decide who and what they love most. César, with his generous, comic spirit, tries to guide his son. Written by
A goodie, perhaps even a classic, but not quite flawless . . .
Memory here deceived, up to a point. Re-viewing, as in once more, twice?, seems to point to the fact that a 7.9 is more than accurate and the belated doffing of a cap to ALL concerned is more than merited. Bearing in mind that this film was made in '31, and that contemporary values of technology and perception can NOT, logically, be applied, this first shot out of the Marcel Pagnol "Msrseilles trilogy" is more than heartwarming AND entertaining, even as today's sensibilities must find contrivances and convenient dramatic license offputting. As with too many romances and reminiscences, the distaff love interest appears, at least to these eyes, much too "mature" for the part, and the callow "juvenile" male lead by that token even more immature. Orane Demazis rolls her eyes in the best Eisenstein tradition and manages to faint sans limpness, but still, somehow, also manages to stay in character, even as Pierre Fresnay's period "haircut" proves distractingly jug-eared. That said, there remains the promise of the adult, mature, and eminently sophisticated docteur of "Le Corbeau" to come. I also found my reactions careening back to Betty Fields and Robert Cummings in "Kings Row." Worse yet, I began, in Fresnay's case, to muse upon the likes of the young Robert Montgomery, and Franchot Tone, and Tyrone Power, although, of that trio, only the first ever "matured" into an actor beyond mere persona. But to get back from the peripherals to the true heart of this matter, which is to say, Marcel Pagnol AND Raimu, their substance remains, excesses of sentiment and comedy notwithstanding, authentic AND reassuring. Warm and hearty, like a good country "stew"? And I personally found the asides about the Parisian haut monde's sniffishness at the Midi provincialisms amusing, and the revelation that the producer assured the director HE was replaceable and Raimu not. Finally, here, has anyone else noted the visual parallels, not to mention the "character" asides herein, a full five years BEFORE Carne's "Quai des Brumes"? Is the latter beholden tot he former? And can ANYthiing be, literally, "original"?
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