Enough is enough!Enough is enough!Enough is enough! This Sulpician melodrama at its kitschest is so over the top,so outré ,so stupid and so old-fashioned it can still grab today's audience.The problem is : will they take it seriously or will they have a good laugh?Probably the latter!
Best(or worst) example: the defrocked priest (Fresnay),in a cabaret ,consecrates a whole lot of Blanc de Blanc wine .Thus turned into the Lord's blood,it must be drunk.It's the young priest ,Fresnay's pal,who has got to do it.So ,he says (you read well) "I cannot mix My Lord's blood with the Rognons Sauce Madère and the Peach Melba" and rushes to the toilets where he vomits his dinner.Soon returning to the table where the devilish Fresnay is waiting,he begins to drink the whole bucket.Up come the gypsies,the violins and all the customers:the scene takes ridicule to new limits,and however the scene is masterfully directed ,no one can deny!
The film is an extravaganza ,full of incredible scenes nobody would dare today.The ending (Fresnay's faith is coming back)is the "I die for your sins/May My blood wash your sins away" thing .There is a similar scene in another Leo Joannon's oeuvre called "Le Désert de Pigalle" .(sic)It's Pierre Trabaud's turn again,and in that film ,a hooker (Annie Girardot ) falls in love with him.The prostitute,Jody,will die ,but she will have a vision of something white before passing away:all those girls in their communion dress ,a symbol of purity ,huh?
The question is: why an actor as talented as Pierre FResnay,who used to work with the best directors:Marcel Pagnol,HG Clouzot ,Julien Duvivier,Maurice Tourneur or Abel Gance could have sunk so low?Part of the reason can be found ,Imho,in his filmography:his only film as a director "le duel" 1939 already displayed religious concerns:he was ceaseless ranting about the perils of the devil in front of the heroine (played by his wife Yvonne Printemps).1947 saw him going at a peak of religious fervor in the only great film he made in the sacred field:"Monsieur Vincent" by Maurice Cloche,a movie which is to be recommended.Delannoy's "Dieu a besoin des hommes " was not bad either: the Bretagne island had no more priest and Fresnay's character (who was only a sacristan had to replace him."IL Est Minuit Docteur Schweizer" the follow-up to which is none other than "le Défroqué" saw Fresnay going at a peak of ham ;in "le Defroqué " it was as though the actor were daring the audience to respect him!
And anyway,"le défroqué " (a French John Wateresque film if you know what I mean)is a turkey which should not be missed.
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