By far the best thing about this wonderful film is that it was made in 1960 right at the apex of the much vaunted new wave, the one that had pseuds and academics creaming in their pants and the one that lasted all of five minutes. Here Alex Joffe, little more than a journeyman writer- director reminds us that REAL film making is about PEOPLE and grammar - Master Shot, Long Shot, Mid Shot, Two-Shot, Close Shot, Close Up, Fade In, Fade Out, Dissolve, not shooting on the streets with a couple of mates and a hand-held camera, having your leading actor walk up the boulevard and then walk down again for no reason, crudely jump cutting because you don't know what a movieola is. It would be difficult to nominate two acting styles as disparate as Michele Morgan and Bourvil - Charles Laughton and Celia Johnson perhaps, or Dorothy McGuire and Rod Steiger. No matter, here the two leads manage to meld perfectly. As if to rub it in Joffe is going back 20 years to the Occupation and Morgan gets to wear the beret she wore in Quai des brumes. It's one of those very human stories with everything in, laughter, tears, tragedy, melodrama and it all works beautifully. In a touch of the Green Cards, Morgan is a middle-class lady with two young children and a husband involved with the Resistance who has been arrested. Bourvil is a poacher one rabbit short of a good night's work. Schoolteacher Gaby Morlay - another great pre-New Wave actress in an affecting cameo - brings them together, arranges fake papers including a marriage license and packs them off to Toulouse in the 'Free' Zone. There they sit out the war forging a bond not only with each other but also with the Jewish family who live next door. Inevitably there is only one ending; the war ends and Bourvil leaves. Bittersweet? In spades.
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