A French farce set in Victorian London where a botanist and his wife get into trouble when they pretend to go missing in order to hide from their sanctimonious cousin -- an Anglican bishop who is leading a campaign against such writing.
I'm not like this kind of people who are going to tell you everything Marcel Carné did after his golden era (from 1936 :Jenny to 1946: Les Portes de la Nuit") was worthless.It is untrue and at least three of his post -Portes works are eminently watchable: "Thérèse Raquin" " les Tricheurs" and his bizarre "Juliette ou la Clé des Songes" .But from "Du mouron pour les Petits OIseaux" onwards ,there is simply not one movie you would recommend to a young person who would like to discover the great director.
Fact 1: A first screenplay was written for Arletty who was to play the concierge Madame Communal.After a tragic accident (because of eye drops) ,the great thespian became almost blind and had to give up acting:it was a major loss for the French cinema.
Fact 2:Another screenplay was rewritten,where the concierge's part was boiled down to a supporting act (played by Suzanne Gabriello)and they had to develop the other characters with mediocre results.It seems that Sigurd and Carné were influenced by colleague Duvivier who expertly used subplots ,notably in his wonderful "sous le Ciel de Paris".
"Du Mouron" has no real central characters .It was perhaps some kind of "Hotel du Nord" of the sixties without a Canal Saint Matin,without a hotel,and without Arletty.There's no real atmosphere (sic) in this hotchpotch.For the first time in his career ,Carné does not direct his actors who,left to their own device ,overplay in an almost unbearable way.Take Dany Saval: her Parisian accent,her swagger,her acting ,everything indicates she's been studying Arletty's parts for years.But no one is Arletty but Arletty.Suzy Delair,a marvelous actress when she was directed by Clouzot ,is totally wasted.Roland Lesaffre,one of Carné's favorites (he virtually appears in all his post -war movies)makes himself ridiculous in his part of a Salvation Army's officer ,complete with uniform.The charming old lady Jeanne Fusier-Gir is exasperating and predates "Tatie Danielle' (Etienne Chatiliez) by almost thirty years.Even a now forgotten pop singer ,Danny Logan ,appears as a butcher's assistant.Another singer ,Charles Aznavour ,does not appear ,but provides the music he wrote in collaboration with Georges Gavarentz : typically French early sixties music.
You can save ,at a pinch,all that concerns Paul"Diaboliques" Meurisse ,the cop and his former accomplice .His deadpan looks survive the paucity of the ideas.
Carné's fans (and I'm part of them) will probably disagree but frankly,sport,Carné's Antartica starts here.
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