André Chatelin is a restaurant owner in Les Halles in Paris. One morning, a girl named Catherine asks to see him. She happens to be the daughter of his estranged wife, Gabrielle, that André... See full summary »
Young, handsome, dashing but cynical, Octave Mouret arrives in Paris, determined to conquer the belles of the capital. His first attempts are not too successful though as he is rebuffed by ... See full summary »
In the absence of his wife, a clarinet player is induced by a friend to meet a call girl, but arrived after a crime. Perceived by some people leaving the scene of the crime covered by his ... See full summary »
In the suburbs of Paris, an old maid has just been murdered. Every body talks about that, except the misanthrope Mr Hire. The same evening, Alice, just getting out of jail, arrives and ... See full summary »
The story of how the people of Paris cope with the strains and struggles of war, from the siege of the city by the Prussians during the Franco-Prussian War of 1871 to the invasion by the Germans in World War II.
Lydia MacMillan, a wealthy old woman who has never married, is invited by an old beau, Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick, for a reunion with the men who have been in her life to reminisce about the ... See full summary »
Edna May Oliver
Jacques Chabassol attempts to find justice for Daniel Gélin
Young and idealistic Jacques Chabassol becomes interested in a homicide case in which his father, Charles Vanel, was prosecutor, sending an innocent man, Daniel Gélin, to prison for the past 18 years. Gélin is Maurizius. He married an older woman with money, Madeleine Robinson, thinking it love but finding this was not so when he met her sister, Eleonora Rossi Drago. The latter was the object of conquest of Anton Walbrook who had a mysterious hold on her even though she did not love him and her hidden affections went out to Gélin. Robinson was shot to death and Gélin convicted, based heavily on circumstantial evidence and the testimony of Walbrook. Chabassol investigates and even gets the hidebound and domineering Vanel to look into the matter again.
From these elements of a novel by Jakob Wassermann, Julien Duvivier creates a very bleak noir. Chabassol will have nothing less than justice but is told by Walbrook in a series of dark reflections on life that humanity doesn't want justice. Where is justice in concentration camps, he asks.
The story of what happened in the past unfolds through flashbacks and even a flashback within a flashback. It is a story of passions largely uncontrolled that erode any chance of happiness. Dreams become wrecked flotsam tossed in unexpected directions by the turbulence of hidden emotional seas pulling and pushing in crossed directions.
I quote Sam Rohdie in "Julien Duvivier: Love Unto Death": "The escapees and exiles who populate Duvivier's films, though having apparently escaped destiny, are pursued by it and end (as in the Gabin vehicles) haunted and destroyed by it. There is no turning back for these characters to what they once had been nor to where they had been; nor is there any possibility for them to move forward, to liberate themselves from the past as if caught between, in a limbo betwixt past and present, memory and actuality, reality and the fantastic, reality and dream, here and elsewhere, this love and that."
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