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....
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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. Over the next two days, she is attracted to George, a local drunk who does odd jobs for brothels and dances grotesquely for tourists in exchange for drinks. George has his own dark secret, a tragedy he caused that leaves him with a death wish. In assisting the local doctor to cope with the epidemic, these two emotional cripples enable each other to rediscover reasons to live and to love. Written by
Philipe and Morgan: You'll never see their likes again!
`Les Orgueilleux' is one of a constellation of worthy French movies of this era that the French stopped making for two reasons: the complete lobotomy of the intellect that was the so-called New Wave and the premature death of Gérard Philipe, one of the century's finest actors. His pairing with Michèle Morgan here is inspired. (They also starred in René Clair's `Les Grandes Manoeuvres'.) In order to describe Philipe's charm, one has to evoke equal parts Leonardo DiCaprio and Laurence Olivier and imagine them cast as romantic leads in the kind of challenging narrative that is not even conceivable today, except for the odd exception. `Les Orgueilleux' is set during a typhus epidemic in a remote Mexican village and is based on Jean-Paul Sartre's novel `L'Amour rédempteur' (`Redeemed by Love', aka `Typhus'). The oversimplification of the novel's themes is compensated by Allégret's penchant for realism and his attention to details, like the long scene of Morgan enduring the discomfort and perils of a lonely hotel room during a heat wave in a third rate Mexican hotel, which is part striptease (daring for the time) and part psychological analysis. In other words, a perfect blend of commercialism and intelligence, both qualities sadly lacking from the aforementioned so-called New Wave.
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