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28 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

Schmooze and Ships and Sealing Wax

Author: writers_reign from London, England
14 June 2004

This is, of course, the first leg of one of the all-time great trilogies and Londoners were able to see all three - weighing in at a little over six hours - in one day recently. When you know that a given title was made at the dawn of the talkies - in this case 1931 - you go prepared to make allowances if only subconsciously but such is the artistry on display here you soon forget even that and just bask in superb ensemble playing led by the irreplacable Raimu. An Academic writing about 'French' film recently dismissed Pagnol as a 'minor' writer. Yeah, you didn't misread. These are the guys entrusted with the further education of a whole generation. Personally I don't know how many 'minor' writers are invited by the Academie Francaise to join its ranks but Pagnol (who at the time the trilogy was made was the youngest writer to be admitted to this august body) isn't one of them. I shouldn't really write the words Academic and Pagnol in the same sentence because Pagnol is a dirty word in Academe. The reason? He's POPULAR and, by definition, 'accessible' which means that the average Joe can UNDERSTAND what he's saying and where he's coming from thus leaving nothing for the Academics to 'interpret'. Write a book that three people buy and one of them understands about 40 per cent of and you've got it made academic-wise. You'll be 'taught' for years and academics will write books ABOUT your book in inpenetrable jargon that only OTHER academics can understand - it's the written equivalent of a Masonic handshake. So no laurels for Pagnol. So what. This first episode - and each of the three stories is self-contained despite featuring the same locale and characters; Alan Ayckbourn did much the same thing 50 years later with 'The Norman Conquests' - spreads the tablecloth and sets out the banquet; locale: the waterfront, Marseilles; principals; Cesar, the bar owner, Marius, his son, Fanny, the ingenue, in love with Marius, Panisse, the sail-maker also in love with Fanny though 30 years older; supporting characters; Honorine, mother to Fanny, and Claudine, sister to Honorine, Piquoiseau, Escartifigue, Monsieur Brun, light relief. These are the basic threads which Pagnol weaves into a tapestry to rival that of Bayeux. Having set the scene masterfully and introduced us to the characters we get the conflict: Fanny loves Marius, Marius loves Fanny but he also loves the sea and waiting in the wings is Panisse in case the lure of what Gene O'Neill describes as 'dat ol' debbil sea' proves too much. Incredibly the citizens of Southern France, Toulouse, Avignon, etc, though highly intelligent and sensitive still feel bitter and resentful and unforgiving of Pagnol whom they see as someone who portrayed them as little more than buffoons. This first part gives the lie to that accusation. 9/10

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19 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

A timeless piece

9/10
Author: jpkolo from Key West, Florida
6 April 2003

Although Marius was primarily written for the stage, Pagnol brilliantly adapted this very theatrical piece to the screen. With the complicity and mastery of Korda's impeccable direction, while talkies were still in their infancy and sound recording was still a challenge, Marius flawlessly delivers high quality dialogues with superb photography of pre-war Marseilles accompanied by a suitable musical score. What is timeless in this masterpiece is the depth of the characters, their emotions, their trials, their flaws and their yearnings, all bathed in the humour unique to Pagnol and the spicy flavour of Southern French. I saw this movie for the first time when I was 9 years old - I was in awe - and for fifty years since have seen it a number of times. I don't think I'll ever grow tired of watching it again and again. A timeless piece!

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12 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

An excellent view of human nature in its strongest form

8/10
Author: Zack Arnold (Poindxtr) from Michigan
5 January 2000

Although a film in subtitles, it easily translates into any language through the universal language of the heart. Pagnol was a strong believer that even though sound was a new and amazing convention in cinematography, it could not be taken advantage of. This belief is readily apparent in Marius. Marius is filled with wonderful dialogue, heartwarming scenes, and emotional relationships. Furthermore, the characters of Cesar and Marius were played to perfection. This film is one that breaks the barrier of time. Even though it may be seventy years old, its themes will universally touch all of those who watch it for ages and generation

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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

A true masterpiece

10/10
Author: richard-1787 (richard@berrong.fr) from United States
16 September 2007

I don't know how much new I have to say about this movie that others have not said already. I have watched this movie over and over, I have had the pleasure of teaching it in a French literature and culture course. Every time I watch it I marvel at how well it is done. The acting is uniformly excellent - but then, these actors had performed the play from which this movie was drawn hundreds of times and had been hand-picked by Pagnol. They will definitely strike modern audiences as theatrical, but that is one of the points Pagnol was making about the people of Marseille: they were fond of drama and "performed" in life. The script is clever, and sometimes hilarious. Scenes like 1) César teaching Marius how to make a mandarin-citron (a drink); 2) César, Panisse, Escartefigue, and M Brun playing a round of cards with César cheating; 3) Marius fuming when Panisse makes passes at Fanny in the bar; and many others are even funnier the 10th time than the first. The music is wonderful. In short, this movie is a marvel, full of acting gems. See it!

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10 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

exceptional part one of the trilogy

9/10
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
22 July 2005

This movie is extremely similar to the first half or so of the movie Fanny (1961) and in many places it is almost word-for-word. All in all it is an exceptional movie and well worth watching.

Fanny (1962) is a remake that combines this movie and the two sequels, Fanny and César. All are great, though the cinematography and music make the remake a better picture (the trilogy had no music).

Overall, it was extremely well-acted and well-written and I strongly recommend it. However, be forewarned that the videotape by Interama Video Classics is VERY poor quality AND they use white subtitles that are often very hard to read. I don't know why, but nearly EVERY French film from the 1930s I have tried to watch on video is almost unwatchable due to the degradation of the print. I'm not sure why this is, but it could easily turn people away from classics like this movie, and that would be quite a loss.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A classic movie

Author: Simon Plouffe from Montréal
24 February 1999

This is a classic movie. I watched this one 10 times. Lots of humor, it represents France in the 30's in Marseille. What is interesting are the dialogues and cast of characters. One of the best movies of Pagnol and an excellent role for Raimu.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Sail Away

8/10
Author: Rindiana from Germany
5 September 2009

With its stagy direction, its straightforward storyline and its lovable character depictions this first part of Marcel Pagnol's Marseilles trilogy offers a welcome relief from today's often all too florid movies.

Of course, it all seems quite broad, static and dated at first, but if you look behind the theatrics, the powerful sincerity and humanity of Pagnol's vision - coupled with some wonderful performances and the writing's flawless mélange of bitterness and sweetness, of jocular humour and heartwarming sentiment, of life's average highs and lows - more than make up for it.

8 out of 10 cuckolded sailors

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2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

A goodie, perhaps even a classic, but not quite flawless . . .

8/10
Author: skyhouse5 from United States
23 April 2008

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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