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Honoré Panisse is dying, cheerfully, with friends, wife, and son at his side. He confesses to the priest in front of his friends; he insists that the doctor be truthful. But, he cannot bring himself to tell his son Cesariot that his real father is Marius, the absent son of César, Cesariot's godfather. Panisse leaves that to Fanny, the lad's mother. Dissembling that he's off to see a friend, Cesariot then seeks Marius, now a mechanic in Toulon. Posing as a journalist, Cesariot spends time with Marius and leaves believing tales he is a petty thief. Only after the truth comes out can Marius, Fanny, César, and Cesariot step beyond the falsehoods, benign though they may be. Written by
This film is the third part of Marcel Pagnol's "Fanny Trilogy". They were originally a stage production, then made into three films from 1931-1936. Many years later in 1961, the three films were distilled into one film that was much prettier to look at and was a Hollywood-financed production.
While I loved MARIUS (1931) and Fanny (1932), I found myself falling asleep repeatedly while watching César. Again and again and again, I found myself dozing. At first, I thought I was just tired, but when I stopped the DVD each time I felt wide awake. I think in hindsight my reaction was because after the first few minutes of this movie, the trilogy, for me, was finished. In other words, the story was as complete as it should be and continuing it seemed superfluous. The 1961 Fanny film ended there, but continuing was probably, in hindsight, not the best decision. I honestly feel that the average viewer could see MARIUS and FANNY without having to see César. It just didn't seem necessary or compelling.
As far as performances and writing go, Raimu, who played Marius' father, was a marvelous actor and was excellent in all three movies. He was also fantastic in Pagnol's film La FEMME DU BOULANGER. An amazing talent. Also, Pagnol has written some amazing films apart from this series--try to see them all. It's just that of all of his work and the books I have read by him, my least favorite is César.
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