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A man and a woman arrive in a cafe-hotel near the belgian frontier. The customers recognize the man from the police's description. His name is Amedee Lange, he murdered Batala in Paris. His lady friend Valentine tells the whole story : Lange was an employee in Batala's little printing works. Batala was a real bastard, swindling every one, seducing female workers of Valentine's laundry... One day he fled to avoid facing his creditors, and the workers set up a cooperative to go on working. But the plot is less important that the description of the atmosphere just before the Popular Front. Written by
According to film scholar Alexander Sesonske, the Catalan painter Jean Castanier (also spelled "Castanier") approached his friend Jacques Becker with the idea of a film about "a likable little world of print-shop workers and laundresses who form a cooperative" to be called Sur la Cour, which Becker would direct. Becker was much taken by the idea, but the producer who took on the project didn't trust him, and decided to offer it to the more experienced director Jean Renoir, for whom Becker had already worked as assistant director on several pictures. Becker was reportedly so furious at Renoir for directing "his" film that he refused to work as assistant director on the production, though he would later work again as Renoir's assistant on several films (e.g. La Grande Illusion (1937)), before becoming a full-time director himself. See more »
One of Renoir's best - social comment that leaves you smiling
One of Renoir's best - a humanist story of worker cooperation under duress and naturally with a strong social undercurrent. It's strongly narrative following the hopes and dreams of the younger generations, contrasted with the wily and self interested actions of some of the older, more experienced characters.
The way the story is told, be beautiful cinematography all sweep you along through perfectly choreographed dramatic tableaux. With the little guy at the centre moving the action along without ever really taking center stage. Masterful.
I can't help comparing it with "It's a Wonderful Life" by Capra, because of the same "good guy versus corrupt company boss" side, and the strong social message in both. They both leave you feeling "Ah that's alright then" with faith in humanity.
So it's one of the happier Renoirs, with his trademark moral undertone.
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