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Marcel Camus began his career brilliantly:many people know and like his second effort "Orfeo Negro" which deservedly won the Palme D'or in Cannes 1959;but fewer know his very first movie,a very interesting work filmed two years before.
"Mort En Fraude" displays the same respect for the audience as "Orfeo Negro" :all the characters speak their own language ,which in 1957 was relatively rare;"pidgin French" is used only if there is no alternative (the young boy)and then it is kept to the minimum and the end result is credible:one can imagine a French in a foreign country trying to escape from villains .Daniel Gelin is as always ,excellent in this part of a French,lost in a country then called Indochine -which would become "Vietnam" soon after- ,whose purpose is less escaping from his enemies than finding a reason to live:hence his involvement in the care of a small village in jeopardy for there are French barracks in the neighborhood.One should add that the love interest (with an Eurasian) is also kept to the minimum,it's not meet-and-sleep stuff.
The French movie guide reads " the hero is killed by the traffickers " ,which is completely untrue:he is actually killed by French soldiers ,hence the title which means something like " smuggling death in" .
"Mort En Fraude" may possess considerable appeal for people interested in the "redux Apocalypse now" which featured added scenes ,notably the French episode.Along with "Orfeo Negro", this is the only Marcel Camus you can recommend to French movies lovers.It was really too bad this promising director should get lost in mediocrities such as "Le Chant Du Monde " and "Vivre La Nuit".
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