The first to die in an epidemic of meningitis in Vera Cruz is a French tourist. His wife Nellie, detached and indifferent, feels little grief and realizes that her coldness is her own doom.... See full summary »
Rafael E. Portas
Carlos López Moctezuma
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The text we read at the beginning indicates the direction of the film; we are asked to sympathize with and not to condemn the orphans and abandoned children brought up in state-run facilities. We are told that these children often grew up to become the "elite" of society. The Gabin character in Carne's Le jour se leve also grew up on the "assistance publique," but he is a fighter for justice, unlike the passive, tormented Pierre. Yves Allegret has filmed Gerard Philipe as a sort of Christ-figure walking through the muddy streets of this third-rate resort town. There is a scene with Madeleine Robinson cuddling Philipe that is very much like the Pieta.
Jean Servais as the slimy Fred has some effective scenes; he reminds us of Jules Berry driving Gabin to murder in Le jour. If the script had focussed more on the conflict between Pierre, the killer of the club singer and Fred, the dead woman's old boyfriend, instead of devoting reams of script pages to the social and political aspects of homeless children (no matter how moving their plight may be) the noir tradition would have been much better served.
I'll finish by praising the actors: Servais is great, Jane Marken as the proprietress of the hotel is a model of petit-bourgeois intolerance, Carette's salesman is boring and right. Only Gerard Philipe fails to give a rounded performance because the script won't let him.
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