1.EMILE ZOLA THis Emile Zola novel,the 11th in the Rougon-Maquart saga depicts the misfortunes of the small shopkeepers at the end of the nineteenth century,when giants like the "Au Bonheur des Dames" began to attract most of the (esssentially female )clientele.As far the characters are concerned ,it's one of the weakest Zola ever wrote.But it's an invaluable document of a fashion phenomenon and Zola's depictions of the ancestors of mode supermarkets are preciseness itself,although a bit boring for a modern reader.It's also notable as the last of Zola's optimistic works :after his father's death,its subsequent books would turn black as the follow-up to "au bonheur des dames" ,"la joie de vivre" (in spite of its title!) testified.
2.ANDRE CAYATTE André Cayatte's career is composed of two distinct parts;roughly 1942-1950:literary adaptations:Zola,Maupassant;the best of this first phase was arguably "les amants de Vérone" which certainly influenced François TRuffaut(who despised Cayatte though) for "la nuit américaine" ("day for night").Then from 1950 onwards ,it was the "legal" period:a former lawyer,Cayatte began to champion all the good causes :plenty of miscarriages of justice,plenty of trials ,which made,in a way,Cayatte a forerunner of the current court movies so dear to today's directors.
3.ANDRE CAYATTE AND EMILE ZOLA This movie,although it belongs to Cayatte's first phase,displays elements which will emerge afterwards:the heroine 's plea for an improvement of the exploited sales assistants' situation,and Mouret's-the owner of the "Au Bonheur des Dames" department stores final speech -which reflect Zola's socialist ideas .This predates the future "and justice for all" which will become Cayatte's motto as a director.
4.CHARACTERS AND CAST: As I mentioned above,the characters are not that much interesting in "au bonheur des dames" and their evolution is downright predictable. Of course ,Michel Simon stands out:as the small shopkeeper whom Mouret defeats (David and Goliath),he's as impressive as usual:but his appearances are too few and far between .Apart from Simon,best performance comes from Suzy Prim as a rich unscrupulous woman ,who tries to conquer Mouret.The main love interest(between Mouret and Simon's niece) is bland.
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