One of the best of von Stroheim's French films this side of "La Grande Illusion". He portrays a world-class charlatan who, freshly back from a 1938 one million dollar New York scam, (straightening, in blackface under the name of Carter, the hair of Harlem residents), resurfaces in Paris under the name of Korlick to sell shares in a development of the seaside of a yet to be created sea in the Sahara. French police are after him and the inspector in charge of his case (Andre Luguet) is married, you guessed it, to Stroheim's beloved daughter (Annie Ducaux). The police get their evidence against Korlick from a blackmailer (Marcel Dalio) with unsuspecting help from his singer mistress (the incomparable Arletty). This whole improbable story ends in a truly remarkable scene. Very much in the spirit of the "cinema de qualite", this movie is an acting tour de force. The story, in spite of its outrageousness, works at some operatic level. The father-daughter relation is reminiscent of and no less moving than that of Rigoletto and Gilda. Again, "La Grande Illusion" it is not, but then Bernard Deschamps, its "auteur", was certainly no Jean Renoir.
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