A young couple, Renee and Pierre, take one night a room at the Hotel du Nord, in Paris, near the canal Saint-Martin. They want to die together, but after having shooted at Renee, Pierre ... See full summary »
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A young couple, Renee and Pierre, take one night a room at the Hotel du Nord, in Paris, near the canal Saint-Martin. They want to die together, but after having shooted at Renee, Pierre lacks of courage and ran away. Another customer, Monsieur Edmond, a procurer, rescues her. When Renee goes out of the hospital, she is hired as a waitress at the hotel. Monsieur Edmond falls in love with her, but Renee is still thinking of Pierre ... Written by
I've just checked out the previous comments for this movie; it is interesting to note that 1) they are all favorable, 2) they all date from 1999 onwards and 3) they range from a simple recording of a joyous experience to the quasi-academic/analytical. This tells us clearly that even a film made 65 years ago can still speak to us today and bring pleasure on the one hand whilst inspiring in-depth analysis on the other. I am only saddened that not one commenter deigned to give a nod to Jean Aurenche, the great screenwriter (though one correspondent, did acknowledge Aurenche's co-writer Henri Jeanson who helped adapt the Eugene Dabit novel). In his 80-odd years Aurenche wrote more than 70 movies, just under half with Pierre Bost, and arguably his best known script outside France was 'Jeux Interdits' in 1952, though he also wrote 'Paris brute-t-il?' (Is Paris Burning?) an international production, and toward the end of his career, wrote for Tavernier - 'L'horlager de St. Paul', 'Coup de Torchon' - and his stories about working during the occupation inspired Tavernier to immortalize him in 'Laissez-Passer'. But I digress: French actors have always had a penchant for single names - Raimu, Bourvil, Coluche, Fernandel, etc - and in Hotel du Nord we have no less than three of them, Andrex, Annabel and Arletty. The first two fell by the wayside - unless you want to count the toilet tissue made famous in England by TV commercials featuring puppies - but Arletty remains one of the all-time greats and even rumors of collaboration have failed to dim her memory. Here she is at her best which was just as well as she was up against Louis Jouvet, another giant of the French stage and screen. The film is drenched in atmosphere which is echoed, whether intentionally or not, in Arletty's great line, which our French commenter rightly says is the most famous in French cinema and which he/she translates well as 'atmosphere, does this face look like atmosphere (is it that this face). Though he was no Jacques Prevert (but then, who is?) Aurenche had undoubtedly absorbed the poetic realism invented by Prevert and brought it to bear on this, only his sixth screenplay. Though at a basic level it is just another melodrama that ends in tears there are metaphors and symbols a plenty if, as our Dublin commenter, you care to look for them. The small, enclosed and private world just behind Gare de l'est, the 'trouble in paradise' motif that is introduced as soon as the idyllic opening sequence of 'one big happy family' has been established, the threat from outside - at a basic level the hoods who have come to find Mr Edmond, at another the Nazi thugs waiting in the wings - etc. Read it how you will it remains a great film. Apart from Aurenche none of the other commenters mentioned Bernard Blier, also at the beginning of a long and distinguished career, to say nothing of siring director Bertrand Blier - the commenter who was so struck with Louis Jouvet may care to know that Blier played opposite Jouvet some nine years later in Clouzot's 'Quai des Orfevres'. The Hotel du Nord is still standing but is now (or was when I last visited), owned by Greeks who haven't a clue about its place in history despite the smattering of lobby cards, affiches, etc in the bar and it is now a venue for English comics. The canal St. Martin is itself undergoing major changes, presumably not for the better but as for Carne's movie and Sandy Traunaur's sets, both were Canal Plus long before there was a TV channel (now technically defunct) and will remain so long after Canal + is just a co-producer credit on sub-Carne movies.
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