I wonder whether the idea of a school of pickpockets was an inspiration for Robert Hamer's 1958 "School for Scoundrels". In any event this is a very funny, touching, stylish, lightweight piece of entertainment. It's a shame that it isn't better known in English-speaking countries.
This is definitely a (vanity?) vehicle for the excellent and evergreen Danielle Darrieux, provided by her husband, director Henri Decoin (I suppose in the manner of Anna Neagle and Herbert Willcox). Their marriage was dissolved in 1941, but the preceding six years of her career (they married in 1935) were among her most productive and rewarding. How many actresses alive today were at the peak of their careers before World War II?
This is a retelling of the Cinderella story, with the young diplomat, Pierre de Rougemont (Claude Dauphin, a polished and patient sophisticate) in the role of the prince. Saturnin Fahre (excellent here, as in "Pepe le Moko" and many other films) is a rather more benign version of the wicked stepmother. Indeed, he seems a fairly tolerant and genial crime-master.
It is hard to summarise a film that is essentially about dresses, rocks and glances. There are certainly a number of brilliant set-pieces (notably in the 'schoolroom' and at the embassy ball), but this is really a film about charm, very witty dialogue (thanks to Jean Willeme and Max Colpet) and high production values. A typical, workaday film of the 1930s - therefore far superior to most of what is produced today. It is astonishing to think that this world of whirls and romances was on the cusp of being crushed.
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