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A French farce set in Victorian London where a botanist and his wife get into trouble when they pretend to go missing in order to hide from their sanctimonious cousin -- an Anglican bishop who is leading a campaign against such writing.
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It was to be Marcel Pagnol's last film ;like Mankiewicz,he did not make any movies (apart from a short) in the last twenty years of his life ;probably busy writing his memoirs ("le Château De Ma Mère,La Gloire de Mon Père " which were successfully tranferred to the screen by Yves Robert in the late eighties.
Alphonse Daudet's short stories were tailor made for a Provençal director such as Pagnol;if you go to Provence,you can visit the windmill where Daudet was supposed to write his "letters" ;actually he never lived in that place,but in the castle of some of his friends near the legendary mill.But it's true that most of the stories which were included in "LETTRES DE MON MOULIN" are true stories:Daudet was told about Maitre Cornille ,MR Seguin's goat and others by peasants and shepherds he used to meet when he walked across the hills.
Pagnol selected three short stories:
segment 1 "L'ELixir du Reverend Père Gaucher" :this delicious elixir (liquor)is still selling in Provence today!Father Gaucher inherits a lot of stuff from his auntie;particularly interesting is the receipt of a liquor.A dealer (FErnand Sardou) is very interested and the fact that it is made by monks gives a " serious" guarantee to the product.As the father gets drunk every time he makes his liquor,his mates the monks invent a new absolution:the absolution while the sinner is sinning!
Segment 2: "LE SECRET DE MAITRE CORNILLE".The novel underwent some changes:the writer Daudet appears in the flesh ;it's him who reveals the secret:the windmill is running but there's no wheat in it,it runs light.
The philosophy was ahead of its time: clean energy please!
Segment 3:"LES TROIS MESSES BASSES " The devil takes the shape of Garrigou,the sacristan and begins to lead a priest into temptation:it's Christmas night,but before the Reveillon (midnight meal),the religious man has got to celebrate three masses;the devil talks and talks and talks of the turkeys,trouts and truffles,they will have after the services ;so the priest entirely botches the last mass, skipping the Pater and the Credo.God is not prepared to accept it.
It was the time when Pagnol's style had begun to be a bit obsolete;but you can watch these three shorts with pleasure.
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