René Clément began his career with movies which did not really belong to him,with the exception of his first film (about Resistance too:"La Bataille du Rail" ).Although he co-directed "La Belle et la Bête " ,every cine buff knows that the film is thoroughly Jean Cocteau's work;for "Le Père Tranquille" he is credited with being "Réalisateur Technique" which speaks volumes: in fact the real auteur is the star Noel-Noel who wrote the screenplay .
"Le Père Tranquille" is looked upon as a bad propaganda movie by lots of young critics today.Time had not come ,in 1946,when the war just came to an end ,to show the dark side of the mirror:it would take 25 years before Marcel Ophuls made his "le Chagrin Et la Pitié" (1971) which showed that all the French people were not heroes;Louis Malle jumped on the bandwagon and released his "Lacombe Lucien" ,the hero of which was a collaborator.Both films met tumultuous reception.
Back in 1946,people did need optimism."Le Père Tranquille" is a dated movie,and one should add that Clement's directing is pretty mediocre ,when compared to some of his later works such as "Jeux Interdits" or the highly superior "Les Maudits" ,the follow-up to "Le Père Tranquille ".Those who attacked Clément for his "naive " depiction of his country should be set down with a DVD player and a copy of "Les Maudits" ,where there IS ,in 1947,a collaborationist journalist among the characters.
Noel-Noel portrays a stay-at-home.He grows orchids in his greenhouse,he has breakfast in bed with his missus ,he is in the insurance business and does not seem to care for the world outside.But you should not go by appearances.
When the German officer (Howard Vernon) questions him about a man who is missing,the dialog is finally witty : NN: He's a bastard! 0:Why? NN:He is a Gaulliste! O:He ain't! He's one of our agents! Another scene is revealing.While the insurance agent's daughter is playing a military march written to celebrate one of Napoleon's victories,the officer wonders at seeing French people's apathy."Wait and see ,the French answers,you do not know them yet,it takes several years!"
Like this ? Try these .....
"La Bataille du Rail" René Clément 1945
"This land is mine" Jean Renoir 1941
"Un Ami Viendra Ce Soir "Raymond Bernard 1945
"Jericho" Henri Calef 1945
"Le Jour et l' Heure" René Clément 1962 (which in several respects shows the dark side of those days)
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