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Louis de Funès,
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For a man whose first love was the theatre - where he distinguished himself as both actor and director especially in the works of Jean Giradoux - and who only took on film roles to bankroll his theatre company Louis Jouvet appeared in some pretty classy movies not least Un Carnet du bal, La Kermesse Heroique, Drole de Drame, La Fin du jour, Quai des Orfevres not forgetting Hotel du Nord where he and Arletty, in what were intended as supporting roles, completely outclassed the nominal leads Anabella and Jean-Pierre Aumont. Jouvet appeared twice for director Henri Decoin, one of the best-kept secrets of French cinema who also had the great fortune to be married for six years (1935-41) to Danielle Darrieux, with whom he made the classic Battement de coeur, in Entre onze heures et minuit and this wonderful low-key entry a sort of Intermezzo with a French accent written by the great Henri Jeanson. Jouvet, who seemed to have been born middle-aged, plays a renowned composer deeply in love with his wife who 'discovers' a gifted young pianist and grooms her for the concert stage. In time the 'usual' rumors begin to circulate and his wife takes them seriously enough to make for a tragic ending. Decoin liked to shoot in the classical style; master-shot, medium shot, close shot, two-shot, three-shot, Reverse angle etc but he was also capable, as here, of fluid montage carried entirely by the voice-overs of Jouvet and his wife. There's a charming Prologue - and bittersweet Epilogue - set in an inn deep in the forest. In the Prologue, Jouvet, who is completely unknown to the guests at a local wedding, is prevailed upon to play 'pop' and folk tunes on the piano, after which a hat is passed round. The Prologue has overtones of 'enchanted' forest, the sort of place that Shakespeare liked to ship his characters to enjoy a break from the everyday world, a place, in fact, where a prestigious composer can play pub pianist and let his hair down for a magic moment or two. In the Epilogue however all bets are off and in a closing shot that echoes Casablanca, Jouvet and friend walk off into a forest no longer enchanted which swallows them up. Not a masterpiece but a charming forgotten gem.
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