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André Chatelin is a restaurant owner in Les Halles in Paris. One morning, a girl named Catherine asks to see him. She happens to be the daughter of his estranged wife, Gabrielle, that André left more than twenty years before. As Gabrielle has just died, André accepts to accommodate Catherine first, then gives her a job in his restaurant before finally marrying her. But the angel-faced young lady might well be a devil in disguise. Written by
When you post as many comments on this site as I do the Law of Averages dictates that you receive a certain amount of feedback in the form of PMs and I guess I've had my share both pro and con. A little over a year ago I posted a comment on a French film made during the war and largely forgotten certainly outside France. Shortly after it appeared a received a PM from a French guy who was very pleased that someone had mentioned this film. Since that time we corresponded spasmodically then out of the blue he wrote and asked if I would like him to tape any French films from French TV and if so which. Naturally I jumped at the chance and asked for anything directed by Henri Decoin, Julian Duvivier, Claude Autant-Lara and anything written by Jean Aurenche, Pierre Bost, Charles Spaak, Henri Jeanson and Jacques Prevert and the upshot is I have just received several great French movies including this late masterpiece by Julian Duvivier. I won't reveal the guy's name lest he is inundated with those both anxious and willing to trespass on his kindness but I am delighted to use this forum to record what positives can come from IMDb which has, alas, many things wrong with it. Now for the movie. There are those who may find it referential - Gabin's mother runs a dance hall on the banks of the Marne and a decade earlier Gabin himself as one of Duvivier's Belle Equipe built a similar establishment in a similar location; In Rene Clair's Le Silence est d'Or a young girl prevailed on an older man to take her in and here Daniel Delorme prevails on the older Gabin in much the same way - but not to its detriment. Gabin runs a restaurant in Les Halles, the wonderful market in Paris which has gone the way of London's Covent Garden but which was very much alive in 1956 when this film was made, he's a genial sort, always ready to see the good in people rather than the worst so when Delorme, the daughter of his estranged wife, turns up claiming orphan status he is happy to take her in despite the fact that he has an adoptive son already. Of course the mother is not really dead and Delorme is not half so naive or angelic as she lets on; we get our first glimpse of her darker/colder side when she coolly rejects an old lover and watches dispassionately as he throws himself under a camion, barely registering the impact before hurrying to a rendezvous with her very much alive and drink and drug-raddled mother where they fine tune plans to seduce Gabin and divvy up his money. The black and white photography complements the story perfectly and reminds us at times of that other classic Les Diaboliques and there are some lovely touches like Gabin's mother's mastery of a whip which she uses with equal dexterity for despatching chickens and chastising Delorme. In short this is one of the finest films that ever got right up Truffaut's nose and if only he'd tried to make something one tenth as good instead of slagging off these films we'd all have been a lot happier. Not to be missed.
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