A Parisian sewer worker longs for a rise in status and a beautiful wife. He rescues a girl from the police, lives with her in a barren flat on the seventh floor, and then marches away to ... See full summary »
After seeing Cat People and Curse Of The Cat People back in the '80's my daughter and I always wanted to see some of Simone Simon's pre-Hollywood work not so easily done in those long-ago pre-internet days! I finally caught up with this, the last French film she made before going to America, and frankly can't understand why it seems to have sunk without trace, it doesn't deserve to have vanished. The print I've just seen wasn't too good but the trailer is on youtube in a decent condition sadly "Time's dread swift passage" may not have been kind to it.
Three tragicomic tales of thwarted love from three different time periods, all centring on a particular castle and its various owners in 1639, 1839 and 1939. Michel Simon is omnipresent throughout, first as a travelling actor, then as a priest, finally as a rich capitalist I preferred him as the latter but he looked like he had his usual fun dressing up for the first two roles. His only foible in the last was a moustache. Claude Dauphin also appears throughout the centuries as the handsome lithe young male who falls in love each time. The 1839 sequence with slinky Simone Simon left me puzzled: Dauphin was packing up to go, then does something you know he's regretting even before some bad news is given - snappy editing to be sure but what happened in between? They're all basically variations on a theme but all three stories have different outcomes, the modern perhaps not surprisingly being the most different and maybe the more interesting for that. There are plenty of worldly witticisms in the best French manner, but some of the best lines I've heard for centuries were uttered by the incredibly photogenic pair of lovers Corinne Luchaire and Dauphin in their frank all-too-human exchange in the modern castle's toyroom. Deliciously barmy! The acting was impeccable, photography and sets beautifully atmospheric, the story inconsequential but fascinating and one to savour.
There doesn't seem to be much information available on this at present but it must have been released just before the Germans marched in, so I wonder if that had anything to do with it being so neglected. The trailer states, "Une réalisation fastueuse" a magnificent achievement, however I wouldn't disagree with that rather magnificent statement. So, a wonderful little film, admittedly probably partly because it was the first time of viewing for me but I'm hoping to be spared to watch it again a few more times in the future.
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