This has the dubious distinction of being the first release of the infamous Continental Films and top-billed Harry Baur also has a distinction but one I feel sure he would have been happy to waive, that of being the first major French actor to be tortured to death by the Gestapo within months of shooting this fine movie. Baur was a veteran actor who made his first film in 1909 and was an early - if not actually the 'first' Maigret and he graced many (77 but who's counting) fine French films with his presence. Those who have seen Bertrand Tavernier's masterpiece 'Laissez-Passer' which was set in Paris and specifically featured Continental will take extra pleasure in seeing an actual product of the company (Douce is another that should not be missed). Pere Noel is now available on DVD and I have to say that the quality is excellent. Cynics may question a 'village' in the Savoy Alps that boasts chateaux like the one here in which we half expect to see Errol Flynn duelling with Basil Rathbone such is the scope and magnificence of its great stone-flagged floors with at least one fireplace as big as the White Horse Inn. I tend to agree with the viewer who stated that the plot is flimsy and is far outclassed by the atmosphere, which is terrific though again one may wonder how a globe-maker would make a living in a remote Alpine village. These things to one side the film is a joy and though It is very doubtful whether any of the fine actors - with the exception of Baur and Fernand Ledoux - would have been known outside France even in 1941 let alone today that is one more pleasure to savour, making the acquaintance of actors who were once only names in Reference Books. This is one I'll watch again.
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