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The story of trench life during World War I through the lives of a French regiment. As men are killed and replaced jaunty Lt. Denet becomes more and more somber. His rival for the affection of nurse Monique is Capt. La Roche.
Anatole Litvak's work is huge:there are German,French and American productions in an uneven filmography.Most people know for sure "Anastasia" "snake pit" and the suspenseful "sorry wrong number".His "Mayerling" was superior to Terence Young's .The weakest works came at the end of his career:"nights of the generals" "aimez-vous Brahms" or le couteau dans la plaie" are dreadful stuff.
"L'equipage" belongs to his first French period.It has been wonderfully restored and the pictures are sometimes really stunning.Litvak takes a subject as old as the hills (a love triangle) and succeeds in grabing the viewer.It takes place during WW1 .Two pilots team up (the title means "the crew");one of them is his pal's wife's lover.
The score is lovely featuring Chopin and French old military songs like "auprès de ma blonde" .
Remarkable sequences: the soldiers leaving for the war ,on a train ;the stifling atmosphere of the honky-tonk where girls dance FRench cancan;and above all (no pun intended),all the scenes in the sky where Litvak uses the planes,the submachine guns and the clouds with great skill.The last scene when the clouds turn black as Aumont is dying is still impressive by today's standards.
Fine performances by Charles Vanel (the husband)and Jean-Pierre Aumont (the lover).Annabella (who would become Tyrone Power's wife ),even by today's canons is still photogenic which is not the case of many actresses of the thirties.
NB:Aumont and Annabella were reunited in Marcel Carne's "Hôtel du Nord" but that time,they were out-shadowed by the supporting cast,Arletty and Louis Jouvet.
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