Jean Gourguet used to introduce himself as a "modest craftsman" ;the critics were hard on him .For sure,some of his movies would need reassessment:"Malaria" created a strange stifling atmosphere ,probably influenced by that of Wyler' 's 'the letter" ,but in my book ,his towering achievement remains " Son Dernier role" ,the last days of a terminally-ill actress which did not sink into pathos and tear-jerker melodrama.
Whereas movies such as "La p..... Sentimentale " remains,even with hindsight -mainly with hindsight- dreadful stuff ," Maternité Clandestine" ,which was reportedly a commercial success,still displays some charm.First of all,this is par excellence the screenplay which the Vichy government would approve of ,without a moment's hesitation: a pack of bad boys,under a gangster's thumb,a la Oliver Twist ,save a pregnant young girl who tries to commit suicide .With one exception (La Fouine ,played by future director Jean-Pierre Mocky ,they redeem themselves :they help the Young mom to have her child,they take care of him,they even try to meet the infamous rich kid who got her pregnant-she was a farm girl in his valuable property-.When the evil gangster (and pimp) wants her to become a hooker and even worse (veiled hints at white slave trade).The conclusion could not be more Petainist : "no more crookedness,no I'm a father and I want my wife and my son to be proud of me" says the adoptive father.
Often filmed on location ,the movie features young actors,some of whom (Cauchy ,Mocky ,Dany Carrel) would have a future in the movies and older highly talented ones ,who were often supporting in classics: Pierre Larquey,Noel Roquevert and Jeanne Marken ,in a delightful part of a hard of hearing good-hearted auntie .
For Gourguet 's movie is not devoid of humor :there also a very funny scene showing the former hoodlums looking for " Accouchement" (=delivery ) in a medical encyclopedia ,and reading lines about childbirth in the antiquity.
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