A poor but ambitious young man arrives in Paris and settles down in the boarding house run by Madame Vauquer. He soon gets to know the guests: Victorine Taillefer, a young lady her rich ... See full summary »
The play opens with an description of a boarding house in Paris.in which, the young Rastignac, being for high society,is fined with Goriot,who bankrupts himself to support his two well-married daughters but be rejected by them eventually.
The third version of Balzac's classic,after two works in the silent age ;one of the last movies made in the dark occupation days by Robert Vernay ,whose movies were often based on famous novels ,his best effort remaining "Le Comte De Monte Cristo" (two versions : 1942 and 1953) "Le Père Goriot" is Vernay's most ambitious work,because based on a literature masterwork ;the only problem is the length of the movie (hardly 90 min) , considering there are lots of characters,all of them interesting,it's sometimes difficult for someone who is not familiar with the novel to catch up with a sprawling story:in spite of the title,Le Père Goriot is not the main character of a movie which is a microcosm :the luxury residences where the daughters live after their money match and the seedy boarding house where the Père Goriot rents a mean attic after his daughters took from him everything they could steal;this is the triumph of the studio cinema which perfectly recreates the atmospheres of two worlds apart.Pierre Larquey is a pitiful Goriot : we feel that he loves even when the Learesque ungrateful daughters hurt him,his eyes longing for affection ;Larquey is one of the most overlooked French actors (he was also outstanding in Clouzot's "Diaboliques" and "Le Corbeau" ) and he probably found here his lifetime part.
Pierre Renoir portrays a disturbing Vautrin,greedy and criminal,and probably (it has been often mooted) in love with Rastignac:"a man is a god when he looks like you" ;Georges Rollin's Rastignac, a countess's protégé on his way to conquer Paris , delivers his famous last sentence " A Nous Deux "(=let's fight it out ,Paris),not in the graveyard after Goriot's funeral but during a ball;personally I'd rather have Jean Dessailly (here cast as his friend ,the doctor)as Rastignac but there's no accounting for taste ;the supporting cast includes luminaries such as Sylvie ,cast as the rapacious Madame Michonneau.
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