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It's all in the delivery of the lines - at the speed of light
I watched this movie again the other evening, and then watched a 2008 Parisian theater production of the original play (at the Théâtre Edward VII). An interesting contrast.
Guitry delivers his lines at the speed of light, with a precision that often comes off as angry. The 30-year-old father in the 2008 version is far kinder in Act I.
But in Act II, the confrontation between the now 50-year-old main character and his wife, who left him 20 years before and now wants him to take her back, to give her "her place" in his household again, the give and take between his anger and her completely immoral manipulation of abstractions like "honor" and "fidelity" is remarkable in the 1930s original, and rather pitiful in the 2008 version. In the 2008 version, the wife comes off as an air-head. In the 1930s version, she is a bright woman acting out a role she has clearly rehearsed carefully. The speed with which Guitry delivers his lines at her makes them resemble ammunition.
There are parts of this 1930s movie that are, I suppose, weaker than others. But seeing Guitry when angry using language as a weapon with which to shoot down his adversary is rather impressive. You'd have to speak French well to appreciate it, though. If you need subtitles, you'd miss the effect entirely.
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