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The sleazy atmosphere of Marseille is here, as well as our usual characters: noble Gabin, despicable Mr. Black, an innocent blonde in hardship and a "Lola". What's amazing is how things have changed since then in technique and social mores. From the way people have fun to what is "too much" in a film. This one must have been daring for its time (sex out of wedlock *on the first night, the dancing scene of Edith Georges (!) almost naked, women couples dancing).
Unpredictable like few films of the genre, it nevertheless gives us something to cling on, as we expect from the 50's, probably a more optimistic era than ours. Even the "body" is scarcely shown, some blonde hair almost poetically dangling from a window. By the way, the 2 scuba scenes must have looked fantastic on cinema! They're still impressive now, by their naiveté as well as for the primitive equipment they used :).
Baba makes a surprising secondary character, Madame Aimée is really "bad seed that refuses to die" (the line a prostitute dedicates to her near the end!), even minor characters like "Rossignol" are fine (and the fact he was sent for by the trade union teaches us a lesson on public vs. private business, in France but applicable elsewhere :)! "Andrée Debar was a very strange actress" as dbdumonteil writes so well on IMDb.
Michel is a bit too naive to be part of this underworld, that's not only about gangsters who can't shoot all the time. Lola and the other hookers are believable, if a bit too pretty for such a lousy brothel. Mr Léon (Berval) has the funniest quip: "I am but a honest smuggler"... who hates violence. Joseph Kosma's climax music is still (very) effective.
The ending is worth the whole film.
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