During the cold and rainy off-season a man arrives in a seaside town and, giving his name only as Pierre, checks into the only hotel which remains open. His arrival arouses curiosity and a ...
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Joseph L. Mankiewicz
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During the cold and rainy off-season a man arrives in a seaside town and, giving his name only as Pierre, checks into the only hotel which remains open. His arrival arouses curiosity and a degree of suspicion, as people note that he appears to know the area, yet gives no explanation for his presence at that bleak time of year in the dead-end town.
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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