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Gabin as a Baron in an intelligent,light,very satisfactory,well-crafted comedy!
Gabin is unequaled in uttering pleasantly some great comic lines.
"Le Baron ..." has important literary sources:Druon and Simenon.The things that make this film worth watching are:(1)the rich cast (Gabin,of course,but also Mrs. Presle , Mrs. Blanchette Brunoy and Desailly);(2)the script (Druon);(3)the skilled directing (Jean Delannoy ).The movie is supple and sympathetic;it has at least four attractive performances (from Gabin,Micheline Presle, Blanchette Brunoy and Desailly).Gabin has verve,mobility,charm,and acts gaily.He was a full-fledged man in his roles from '55-'57,and now,almost suddenly,in '60,our beloved Gabin is an old-timer already.He is not aristocratic,as Fresnay, Stroheim, Jouvet were,but a very acute,mirthful oldster.(In fact,Gabin was only 56 years old in this movie.)
Mrs. Presle does a part a la Mrs. Taylor;it is not too original,but it is OK.
I knew Desailly from La Peau Douce .
Was Gabin the best choice for a Baron?It is certain that he made the role on his own hand.I guess Fresnay would have made a better character,as he was much more suited to perform an aristocrat.If the choice was mine,I would have chosen another actor to play a baron.(Fresnay was alive when this movie was shot.)But the movie uses the premise that a Baron does not have to look as a Baron.I grant that it is better to have this movie WITH Gabin as a baron,than not to have this Gabin movie at all.The man is not a miscast as Baron Jérôme Napoléon Antoine.He is not necessarily a Baron,but,instead,a very funny and cheerful and pleasing to watch Gabin,who took the opportunity to deliver some tasteful fun,and this is more interesting than any baron on Earth...
"Le Baron ..." is a well-written and well-done comedy,intensely funny,and of an excellent taste (despite the presence of the inevitable,it seems,"popular element":some unkempt rednecks and cunning rustics,some grotesque rusticity,the rural humor,some ruses,things that I abhor,but which are kept,here,within the due limits and do not become stupid).
As an art object "Le Baron ..." is sprightly,intelligent, fluid,well-conceived.No trace of stiffness.
One more word;who was Druon when this movie was released?Well,in '59 appeared La Louve De France /Les Rois Maudits, V,and in '60:Le Lis et Le Lion /Les Rois Maudits, VI.
The entire cast,plus the director Jean Delannoy ,plus the writer:everyone has a merit here,and everyone masters his job.
I intensely recommend this well-thought,lucid and simple comedy,that is light and also cruel,unconventional and quite realistic.There is more than just a bit of bitterness.It is a rare science,to be simultaneously light and bitter.
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