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Louis de Funès,
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Louis de Funès,
1) Jerôme Chambard, a retired man, taken in by nuns in a convent, swears like a trooper. 2) Françoise takes a lover because he has promised her a diamond necklace. 3) Denis, a seminarist, decides to renounce his vows to avenge his sister. 4) God in person lands at a remote farm and works miracles there. 5) Pierre learns that his mother is not his mother, but a famous actress. 6) Didier, a bank clerk, teams up with a bank thief after being fired by the manager 7) Jerôme Chambard is invited to Sunday lunch by his friend the bishop and by dint of drinking to their friendship the holy man cannot remember the ten commandments anymore Written by
The film made up of sketches had always been Duvivier's forte:"un carnet de bal" "flesh and fantasy" and "sous le ciel de Paris" were brilliant achievements."Le diable et les dix commandements " seems at first sight a comedy but Duvivier's pessimism is just round the corner.
Segment one cast Michel simon as an odd-job man,always swearing,which would not be that much offensive,if he did not work in a nunnery.Here comes the bishop...who is none other than an old pal of his.It's a farce a la "Don Camillo" which Duvivier filmed in the fifties .
Segment two is still a comedy,borrowing a lot from Roald Dahl and his "Mrs Bixby " (which Hitchcock adapted for one of his shorts in "Hitchcock presents"),without giving the writer any credit.However ,all they did was replace the fur coat by a necklace .It's funny but disappointing if you know Dahl.
With segment three,the tone drastically changes;it's no more a comedy,it's Duvivier's film noir again all over the place:Aznavour is a priest whose purpose is to avenge his sister who became a prostitute and a junkie because of a dangerous liaison (Lino Ventura).There's nothing rosy here and the finale is absolutely desperate.
Segment four climaxes the movie :this sketch is a little masterpiece in itself .Duvivier plumbs the depths of sorrow:in a desolate country,a man (Fernandel) arrives in a poor farm where everybody 's lost faith in God ;in front of the house,they've put an Indian totem,which increases the madness of the situation.In a seedy bedroom,an old woman (Germaine Kerjean) is dying :the newcomer tells her he is God and he can help her and her whole family.Here begins a cruel dialog where Duvivier and Jeanson let their inspiration flow and thus take pessimism to new limits.The director's genius shines for the conclusion,which is completely unexpected ,and is a return to farce and derision...A "serious" ending would have led the viewer to despair.
but not for long as segment five is some kind of tragedy :A young man (Alain Delon)learns that his mother (Madeleine Robinson) is not his mother ;So he pays a visit to his "true" mother (Danielle Darrieux) ,a celebrated actress.Alas,she's in love with herself.She barely looks at him,always wrapped up in herself,staring at the mirror .The happy end must not fool the audience.Duvivier's tale is a tale of selfishness and indifference.
Segment six is the weakest,although it features Jean -Claude Brialy,Louis DeFunes and Jean Carmet fighting for a suitcase full of dough:there's only one good moment:the cop helps Brialy (the thief) to tie his case which is threatening to open.
Segment seven returns the viewer to the nunnery where the sisters ask the bishop to teach the crude old man the ten commandments.
This is an uneven work:if it were a minor director ,we would approve heartily of it.Coming from Duvivier,one of the greatest artists France had ever had,one could be more demanding.Obviously,the central segments (3,4 and 5) are the core of the movie,as strong as anything Duvivier did .But the rest is not in the same league .Besides,the concept is not always clear:the devil ,who works behind the scenes ,appears between them in the shape of a snake ,not a very original idea.
A thousand times better,anyway, than the contemporary "les sept péchés capitaux" .
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