In occupied France during the Franco-Prussian War, a young French laundress shares a coach ride with several of her condescending social superiors. But when a Prussian officer holds the ... See full summary »
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William A. Wellman
In occupied France during the Franco-Prussian War, a young French laundress shares a coach ride with several of her condescending social superiors. But when a Prussian officer holds the coach over, social standings are leveled and integrity and spirit are put to the test. Written by
Ken Yousten <email@example.com>
Simone Simon doesn't take the title role in Mademoiselle Fifi that dubious honour goes to Kurt Krueger but it's still her best role outside of the Cat People films. A rare non-horror credit for Val Lewton, it's a well-mounted and surprisingly effective combination of two of Guy De Maupassant's stories about passive resistance in the Franco-Prussian war that works as an effective WW2 propaganda piece. Simon's character may have been changed from a plump prostitute to a petite laundress (this was the 1940s, after all), but the first half, based on the story that inspired Stagecoach, is still a remarkably effective adaptation that segues comfortably into the second story, linking them both by a battle of wills with the titular bored Prussian officer who wants the population to submit to his whims purely as a mark of obsequiousness. Nicely directed by Robert Wise, it deserves to be much better known and it's a shame that Warners couldn't find a place for it on their Val Lewton boxed set, though Editions Montparnasse's French DVD is an acceptable transfer.
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