The first half of the sixties saw a mini-boom of French old melodramas of the nineteenth century.The most celebrated of them "Les Mysteres de Paris" (someone's reading that book in Cloche's film) was filmed by André Hunebelle in 1962 with poor results;Riccardo Freda tackled D'Ennery's "Les Deux Orphelines" (which was made by Griffith as "Orphans of the storm" in the silent era and remade by Maurice Tourneur in the thirties ) and "Roger la Honte" .
Maurice Cloche took "la Porteuse de Pain" (= bread carrier)-which he had already filmed in 1949-and succeeded measurably well;the loooong novel was simplified with good results.Xavier de Montépin's style is mushy ;the last line of the story -not used ,wisely ,in the movie- is :"I've suffered ,but now,it's paradise!Ah! God is kind!" "La Porteuse de Pain" owes a lot to the cast : Suzane Flon,a very talented thespian was ideally cast as Lise Fortier,an ill-fortunate woman,unfairly charged with murder,sent to jail,separated from her children,you know the score..;Philippe Noiret plays a delightful villain;Jean Rochefort is the mischievous blackmailer cousin.Costumes and settings recreate Paris of the late nineteenth century: the ball scene is particularly successful,as the dancers waltz to the "Blue Danube" or do the quadrille to "Il A Des Bottes Bastien" an old popular song (1876) which began as a honky tonk repetitive ditty and ended up in the bourgeois mansions.
This is not a masterpiece ,but it is a well made melodrama which should appeal to aficionados of the genre.Remade in the seventies as a miniseries starring Martine Sarcey as the carrier with supporting roles by Jacques Villeret and Bernard Giraudeau.
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