Dedee is a prostitute, working in Monsieur Rene's night club on Antwerp's harbour. The porter is Marco, her pimp. Dedee is not happy, until she meets Francesco, an italian sailorman. They ...
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Life in a small Mexican village where joy and misery, hope and pain, passion and guilt, love and decay, life and death are mixed in the peasants life and two French citizens who end up stranded in there, during a typhoid epidemic.
Rafael E. Portas
Víctor Manuel Mendoza
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Dedee is a prostitute, working in Monsieur Rene's night club on Antwerp's harbour. The porter is Marco, her pimp. Dedee is not happy, until she meets Francesco, an italian sailorman. They fall in love and Dedee begins to dream about an escape of her daily dullness. Written by
This was a contender for the Venice Film Festival's Golden Lion facing such stiff competitors as THE FALLEN IDOL, David Lean's OLIVER TWIST, THE RED SHOES, THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE and the eventual winner, Laurence Olivier's HAMLET. Incidentally, leading lady Simone Signoret and director Allegret were husband and wife at the time of shooting, but they divorced the following year.
On the surface, the film does feel suspiciously like an inferior rehash of Marcel Carne's PORT OF SHADOWS (1938) not just its harbor setting and noir-ish ambiance, but the characterizations themselves: with Signoret neatly replacing Michele Morgan, Italian writer-turned-director-and-actor Marcello Pagliero (he starred in Roberto Rossellini's ROME, OPEN CITY  and later directed the similarly-titled ROMA, CITTA' LIBERA ) instead of Jean Gabin, Bernard Blier standing in for Michel Simon, and Marcel Dalio essaying the role of the cowardly crook portrayed by Pierre Brasseur in the earlier film! Even so, the four leads are all excellent in their respective roles: Signoret, especially, has a star-making turn as the optimistic bar hostess/streetwalker and Dalio is deliciously slimy as her wimpish pimp who is not above beating her to get the girl to extort more money from her clients, which he then squanders on his infallibly doomed schemes.
The film is very well done in all departments (an unexpected highlight is a brutal street scuffle early on, not to mention the vicious ending) and makes one look forward to eventually sampling Allegret's other well-regarded efforts UNE SI JOLIE PETITE PLAGE (1949), MANEGES (1950; also with Signoret and Blier, which I have on VHS but only in French) and THE PROUD AND THE BEAUTIFUL (1953). Ultimately, DEDEE D' ANVERS has the disadvantage of being sort of stuck in the middle between two superior movies on a similar theme the afore-mentioned PORT OF SHADOWS and Jacques Becker's CASQUE D'OR (1952; also starring Signoret).
While one has to be grateful to Italian TV channels for the loyalty they show towards French cinema in the way they keep pumping them out throughout their daily schedules, I have to complain about the dire state of the print quality on evidence here: the video is hazy in the extreme and is saddled besides with a tagged-on, anachronistically modernistic soundtrack!
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