Pépé le Moko is a gangster from Paris that hides in Algier's Casbah. In the Casbah, he is safe and is able to elude the police's attempts to capture him. But he misses his freedom, after ... See full summary »
A French farce set in Victorian London where a botanist and his wife get into trouble when they pretend to go missing in order to hide from their sanctimonious cousin -- an Anglican bishop who is leading a campaign against such writing.
During the first World War, two French soldiers are captured and imprisoned in a German P.O.W. camp. Several escape attempts follow until they are sent to a seemingly impenetrable fortress which seems impossible to escape from.
Paris, during the winter after its Liberation. Jean Diego meets up with his friend Raymond Lecuyer again. A tramp, pretending that he the Destiny, predicts Jean will meet the most beautiful... See full summary »
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 »
Life's a rotten business, says Jean, a deserter who arrives at night in Le Havre, looking to leave the country. He lucks into civilian clothes, a little bit of money, a passport, and a dog, and he also meets Nelly, a 17-year-old who's grown up too fast. She's the object of lust of men: including a boyfriend Maurice, her putative protector Zabel, and Lucien, a local hood. Jean falls for her, faces down Lucien, and gives her courage to stand on her own feet. A ship is leaving for Venezuela; can at least one of them be on it, or is that just a dream? Written by
What could be simpler than a tree?
A tree. But when I paint one, it sets everyone on edge. It's because there's someone or something hidden behind that tree. I can't help painting what's hidden behind things. To me a swimmer is already a drowned man.
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I know, I know, this isn't film noir, it's 'poetic realism.' Fine with me, but it's still an early example of noir to me. And while this film has many strong points, it's very easy to overrate it. For one thing, it's totally predictable. If you haven't figured out by the halfway point what's going to happen to the Gabin character, you just haven't been to very many movies. For another, the first half of the film is disjointed and just plain dull. However, after the halfway point it begins to pull itself together and ends up working rather well.
On to the strong points. Gabin is, well, Gabin. He is one of those rare screen presences who is watchable and enjoyable in anything. And Michele Morgan, who I don't recall seeing before, is beautiful, magnetic, and riveting. It's hard to believe that she was only 18 when she played in this film. And the tone of the film--downbeat, mildly depressing--is a healthy antidote to the relentlessly upbeat Hollywood productions of the time. And the downbeat tone is probably much more appropriate to 1938 as well.
Some reviewers have criticized the sets. Personally, I think they worked. This film worked very hard to create an atmosphere, and for this the sets were perfect.
The film was also daring for its time, although perhaps not for the French. The Morgan character is strongly hinted to be a woman of easy virtue and, at a time when Hollywood was plagued by the Hayes code that prohibited even a hint of sexuality, there is a very obvious 'morning after' scene in which it is obvious that the Gabin and Morgan characters checked into a hotel room and spent the night together. There is even a scene after the morning after scene in which it is obvious that they are about to go at it again; Gabin grabs Morgan, they embrace and start to fall on the bed, and the scene fades out. Moreover, in an era when such things weren't even hinted at, there is a subtle suggestion that Morgan's godfather/caretaker may have molested her, and there is a less than subtle suggestion that he lusts for her. In these senses the film was way ahead of its time.
Definitely worth seeing. 8/10
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