7.6/10
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The Red Head (1932)

Poil de carotte (original title)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Robert Lynen ...
Louis Gauthier ...
Le parrain
Simone Aubry ...
Ernestine Lepic
Maxime Fromiot ...
Félix Lepic
Colette Segall ...
La petite Mathilde
Marthe Marty ...
Honorine - la vieille bonne (as Madame Marty)
Christiane Dor ...
Annette, la bonne
Catherine Fonteney ...
Madame Lepic (as Catherine Fonteney Sociétaire de la Comédie Française)
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Release Date:

7 March 1934 (Portugal)  »

Also Known As:

The Red Head  »

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1.37 : 1
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Referenced in Hideko no shashô-san (1941) See more »

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Duvivier meets Renard :up where they belong
6 July 2006 | by See all my reviews

A remake was made by Graziani in 1972.Although it featured Philippe Noiret,ideally cast as M.Lepic,it did not work.

Part of the reason can be found,IMHO, in the very structure of the book.Jules Renard's literature classic ,from which

the FRench young students study at least one chapter ,is a very hard work to transfer to the screen: it is made of small vignettes,small scenes ;it's not really a linear plot.One could have thought that Duvivier,who was the absolute master of the movie made up of sketches ,would opt for this technique for his "Poil de Carotte" .You are underestimating him:he knew,forty years before Graziani ,that he would have got a listless film.

Duvivier wrote himself the screenplay -as he had done in the past and as he would almost always do in the future;to think that he was not looked upon by some people as an auteur!- and he connected all the links of the chain.Using Renard's short scenes (the melon,the hens,Mathilde,the girlie) ,Duvivier perfectly integrated them into a whole.There is a progression in his movie which did not exist in the book.Only the masters of the seventh art know how to make a book their very own (other examples:Jean Renoir and Zola's "la Bete Humaine" ;Alfred Hitchcock and Boileau -Narcejac's "D'Entre les Morts" ("Vertigo").

A minor quibble:Catherine Fontenay's Madame Lepic is too theatrical and her shrill delivery is in direct contrast to Robert Lynen's and Harry Baur's very modern playing.Frontenay seems to be still living in the silent age.The monstrous mother,almost like in Hitchcock 's canon,would come back in Duvivier's huge body of work: a crazy mother in "Un carnet de Bal" who thinks that her dead son is still with her ; the over possessive one in "Voici le Temps des assassins" ,the absent one (replaced by a terrifying stepmother ) in "Boulevard" ;the selfish one ,protrayed by Danielle Darrieux in one sketch of "Le Diable et Les Dix Commandements".She was already here in "David Golder" (1930) ,asking dying Baur for a few Francs more....

Robert Lynen ,whose fate was tragic-see the first comment-,gives a performance so modern I do not think any contemporary whiz kid could approach .His Poil de Carotte refuses to be a martyr.He is a rebel,and even if he almost commits suicide (in a scene that would remain one of the peaks of Duvivier's works) he's a rebel and the last lines of the movie have something of a happy end ,which is very rare in the director's work.Happy end ,relatively speaking:actually a new war has begun:"now there are two of us" M.Lepic says.In the book,Renard wrote:"I can assure you that you will have comforting surprises" .One should note that "Poil de Carotte" was an autobiographical book.

Nobody ,not François Truffaut in "les Quatre Cents Coups " ,not even Maurice Pialat in his harrowing " L'Enfance Nue" equaled Duvivier when it came to depicting stolen childhood.Duvivier's peers are rather Bunuel ("los Olvidados" )Loach ("Kes" ) or Comencini ("Incompreso" "Cuore" ).


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