Marc Allégret never struck me as a very creative director. Nevertheless, some of his works are worth mentioning ("Fanny", "Gribouille" and of course "Entrée des Artistes", probably his finest prewar film). "Orage" belongs to the same bunch of films, that is to say nice, old-fashioned theatrical movies which all achieved success in their time.
"Orage" ("Storm") marked Charles Boyer's return to France after two years spent in Hollywood, not without some success. Yet the film was made rather to boost the burgeoning career of Michèle Morgan, Marc Allégret's protégée. Based on a play by Henry Bernstein, who was then a popular playwright, it can be seen as the story of a sort of middle-life crisis as experienced by André Pascaud (Charles Boyer), a peaceful construction engineer married to the adoring but rather dull Gisèle (Lisette Lanvin). When André's brother-in-law Gilbert (Robert Manuel) asks him to intercede in his favor with his aloof girl-friend Françoise (Michèle Morgan), André instantly falls in love with the young woman. But Françoise is the type of woman who multiplies affairs while waiting for the big love, therefore she doesn't take anything too seriously. She remains a mystery to most men (including André), with the exception of one of her ex-lovers (Jean-Louis Barrault) who claims he is the only one who can understand her -- but isn't he simply jealous ? We could have had a story of bitter passion, betrayal and fiery feelings. Instead, there is a rather hesitating (if not predictable) plot which never seems to know what to do with M. Morgan's character. While her cold classic beauty serves her character well, it seems the authors were not daring enough to portray her as the fascinating bitch she could have been. Or maybe it was not intended as such in the original script and it was M. Morgan's interpretation which gave a peculiar flavor to Françoise's character. Anyway, the ending will look quite poor for all those who were expecting something intense. As for Charles Boyer, he is... well, quite himself as the handsome yet easily influenced cheating husband. He doesn't do much but does so really well. Remake: Franco-Italian co-production "Delirio" (1954), with Raf Valone and Françoise Arnoul.
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