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Carl Theodor Dreyer
In one sense, it is the typical boulevard comedy of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: the story of a man who seduces another man's wife away from him and then finds a way of getting him out of the picture. That goes back at least to Molière, and probably before. Granted, the three actors involved, Guitry as the seducer, Raimu as the husband, and Pauline Delubac as the ravishingly beautiful and beautifully clever wife, play these stereotypical roles as well as they have ever been played. And Guitry's dialogue has some magnificent lines. But the situation is not new or remarkable.
What is remarkable, however, is the delivery of the dialogue, especially by Guitry. Raimu takes his lines with the pace of a southerner, exaggerated and funny. Delubac delivers hers with astounding wit and charm. But Guitry delivers his, which after all he wrote for himself and performed nightly in the theater before making the movie, at an astounding speed. Astounding, because he also delivers them with the utmost clarity. They go flying by at a speed that would put Katherine Hepburn in "Bringing up baby" to shame, and yet you don't miss one of them. It is, among other things, a remarkable lesson in theatrical diction.
There are plenty of great lines to keep you laughing. But don't overlook the fact that you catch them all even when they are delivered at a sometimes astounding speed.
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