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Juju, a drunken oaf who feels the need of being important to someone---anyone---and his friend, an artist, are forced at gunpoint to care for a fugitive, Peirre Barbier, in Juju's broken-down home. The urge for being needed is such in Juju that he gives up drinking and takes care of Pierre, even after he learns that Pierre has been making love to Maria, the girl Juju loves. Plans are made for Pierre's escape, and Maria is to join him over her father's protests. Marua steals money from her father and begs Juju to take it to Pierre. When Juju finds that Pierre plans to double-cross Maria, he kills him. Juju takes the money to his artist-friend, he tells him to return it to Maria, as coming from Pierre, so she won't think she has been betrayed. Juju returns to drinking and being a drunk. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A down-and-out man and an artist friend hide a criminal
What a beautiful movie this is! It's a shame that some New Wavers felt that they had to criticize the work of the director, Rene Clair. There is room for any movie of any school and style if it has merit and qualities that viewers appreciate. And this is the case with "Gates of Paris" which has warmth, depth, and insights into the frailties of human character.
Juju (Pierre Brasseur) is a kind of community middle-aged bum who pals around with Artist (Georges Brassens), who sings several entertaining songs that he wrote. Artist lives in a shacky place with a basement. Juju likes drink, and he drinks at the local bar whose proprietor has a young and beautiful daughter, Maria (Dany Carrel), with whom he gets along well. In fact, he is in love with her, and she is on good terms with him. They even go to a dance together.
Into this little neighborhood, often shown in dark tones, comes Pierre (Henri Vidal), who is fleeing from police. Juju is good-hearted and gets Artist to hide him in his basement. His stay is longer than expected. Vidal is a brutish, suspicious man who is out for himself. Juju is the opposite, really a Christian man. Can he smooth out Vidal's very rough edges, his readiness to do violence, or will he fail in this effort, which comes natural to him? Brassens doesn't like Vidal. Vidal eventually attracts the innocent Maria, raising many more questions, for he is a wanted man.
The acting is flawless, under Clair's direction. Ms. Carrel and Brasseur play several sequences beautifully together. The script is tight and meaningful. All the action is on sound stages that lend a degree of staginess to the movie. With a minimum of effort on the viewer's part, this negative fades into the background and is outweighed by the production design and control over the lighting.
Although I'd call this film noir, it is subtly done noir. It doesn't hit you over the head with gunplay and violence. For much of the film, the major events are internal emotions and states of mind, combined with continual suspense over the discovery of the secret hiding place of Vidal.
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