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He is a French taxi driver in Lisbon carrying the scars of a wife's infidelity that ended in tragedy when he found her with his lover upon returning from the war. She is a French woman in trouble with the law and she has a police inspector on her tail. They fall passionately in love, but because of his past he is not able to trust that she is not using him to escape the police. She must choose between escaping with him and remaining under a shroud of doubt or turn herself in to prove that she indeed loves him. Written by
After cutting over 15% of the film's length, Portuguese censors passed the film in 1955, but conservative critics attacked it even so, for lacking production values and showing too much. Manuel Pina wrote: "The word 'love' should not be used relating to this film. Love is not sensuality. In this film, 'to love' means something else, that morality prevents us to speak about." See more »
worth watching for those who like films of the 1950s
I had wanted to see this film for some time, because it comes in the middle of the most productive part of Trevor Howard's career. It intrigued me as it was the only non-English language film he made while he was still in his prime. I had pretty much given up on ever seeing it, thinking it too obscure for DVD release. And then out of the blue it was released in France in spring 2008.
It is definitely worth seeing if a) you like any of the three stars, who all give good performances; b) you like films (French or otherwise) from the 1950s - this film is very much a product of its time; c) you are interested in tracing the career of the director, Henri Verneuil, best known in the English-speaking world for The Sicilian Clan (1968) with Gabin and Delon.
As I said above, I watched the film because I wanted to see what Trevor Howard was like in it. He is undoubtedly very good, even if he seems to struggle with the French dialogue on occasion. But he has a couple of very effective scenes, and the film is an under-appreciated but nonetheless important one in the development of his career.
The other stars, Daniel Gelin and Francoise Arnoul, are good too. The same cannot quite be said of Verneuil's direction, which oscillates between the effective and the overly static. There are a few too many long dialogue-driven sequences - partly the fault of Joseph Kessel's somewhat wordy script, taken from his own novel - that are unimaginatively filmed. I wonder what would have happened if a director like Becker or Clouzot had been in charge? But both the direction and the film itself really come alive in the sequences filmed outside on location in Lisbon. Not only do cast and crew seem to have been enlivened by the location shooting - a scene on a river boat, for example, is beautifully shot and acted - but the viewer also gets a pretty vivid picture of what Lisbon in the 1950s was like. The outdoor scenes are exceptionally vivid, and although there are a few too many stops for for the camera to take in "local colour" (a key facet of so many films of the period, offering the contemporary viewer a travelogue-style experience) nonetheless the location work in and of itself makes the film worth viewing.
The final points of interest are a fairly frank (for the time) depiction of sexuality, and the faint echoes of "doomed lover" romances so important in French cinema of the late 1930s. The film can be seen as a cousin of earlier films like Quai des Brumes and Hotel Du Nord.
I think that overall, if the direction and writing had been more dynamic, this would be regarded as a minor classic, and would not have languished in the relative obscurity it has done. But the actors deserve plaudits, as does the camera-work of Roger Hubert. It is also pleasing to note that Mme. Arnoul was still working as recently as 2007.
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