The rabble has a dream:a place where the children from the wrong side of town could play .

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Gabriel Signoret ...
Le père Chinelle (as Signoret)
...
Le père Jos (as Larquey)
...
Julie
Thérèse Dorny ...
Toinon
Valentine Tessier ...
Madame Collinet
Bernard Lancret ...
Roland
Georges Bever ...
Le père Martin (as Bever)
Armand Lurville ...
Ganduron (as Lurville)
Robert Seller ...
Hardel (as Seller)
André Rehan ...
Le domestique
Lise Hestia ...
La concierge (as Hestia)
Lona Dilva ...
La chanteuse des rues
Marcel Mouloudji ...
Toto
Jean-Pierre Thisse ...
Le petit chanteur
Jacques Chevalier ...
Lulu (as Maurice Chevalier)
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Storyline

A poor man,who sells cheap toys on the street (puppets,balloons..),finds a diamond ring and brings it back to the owner,a wealthy baroness,who,for the first time in her life ,discovers that all the children were not born silver spoon in hand. The old man and his pals,along with their protege ,a young man ,asks for a place where children could play ,a garden for these brats who got a raw deal . Although some sunshine does break through,it's not a rosy world for all that.The town notables do not believe this riffraff is able to see their idealistic plan through;they try to dishearten this ignorant populace ,their own concern being the next elections. Written by dbdumonteil

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Genres:

Comedy | Drama

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Release Date:

20 November 1936 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Sotto il sole di Parigi  »

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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La Belle Equipe
30 September 2016 | by See all my reviews

Before the movie begins,lines about what Ménil Montant was appear on the screen,not unlike those in Wyler's "dead end" ;it's a place in Paris between Belville and The Père Lachaise cemetery ,where the working-class live and where children do not have what they deserve.Every town has its "Menilmontant"

Had Frank Capra been living in France,this is the movie he could have made.René Guissart's movie is a fable,or a fairy tale of sorts ("I'm a fairy,says the wealthy baroness ,make a wish!)

Like Duvivier's "La Belle Equipe" ,"Mesnilmontant " is inseparable from the Front Populaire Zeitgeist ;and like Duvivier's heroes ,who win at the raffle ,all begins with a windfall:a poor man,who sells cheap toys on the street (puppets,balloons..),finds a diamond ring and brings it back to its owner,a wealthy baroness,who,for the first time in her life ,discovers that all the children were not born silver spoon in hand. The old man and his pals,along with their protégé ,a young man ,asks for a place where children could play ,a garden for these brats who got a raw deal .

Of course ,the characters are cardboard ,but the players ,all admirable,give them substance :Gabriel Signoret is wonderful in this part of an altruistic old man ,who does not regret the time when he was young,because he " was not a philosopher then";his last scenes will send the impressionable tearing through an entire box of Kleenex;matching him every step of the way is the excellent Pierre Larquey (mostly remembered as the teacher who punishes the pupil in the last scene of "Les Diaboliques" ),full of wisdom and Joie De Vivre.

Although some sunshine does break through,it's not a rosy world for all that.The town notables do not believe this riffraff is able to see their idealistic plan through;they try to dishearten this ignorant populace ,their own concern being the next elections.

The poor don't trust the police either ;"when I brought back a wallet to the police station,they treated me like a thief" says one of them.They are the bourgeois' valets who help them have the slums inhabitants thrown out and who keep them from mixing with the worthies in the inauguration of THEIR garden.

The children are given a long screen time;it's really a Doisneau photo album in motion:in their games,they parody their elders and the picture they give is not that much flattering;among them ,Mouloudji, who would become a famous actor later and who would keep his rebellious mind (he was the first to record Boris Vian's "Le Deserteur").

Oddly ,it's an old woman who epitomizes the suffragettes and later women's lib:Toinon(Therese Dorny) proposes marriage to Jos (and not the other way about);she 's the only one who dares to tell the hateful bourgeois a few home truths;in direct contrast with her,we have the lovely young Julie (Josette Day,later one of Cocteau's favorite actresses):she would like to work,but her fiancé doesn't want to hear of it:a woman's place is at home,taking care of the children .

For "La Belle Equipe" ,Duvivier had filmed a pessimistic conclusion the producers asked him to change drastically.The ending of "Menilmontant" is totally unexpected and it's the one moment which is not Capraesque at all.Although the children have their garden ,the last pictures leaves a bitter taste in the mouth;it's finally the establishment that walks away with the honors ,those tramps who did all the dirty work are despised,ignored .

Yves Mirande's last lines are worthy of a Duvivier:"the important is for the children to be happy " says Julie ;but Jos 's "let's hope!"does not delude the viewer.And "La Marseillaise" ,which is heard at the end of the movie might have been imposed by the producers to sweeten it.After all,it was no longer a revolutionary ,let alone organizing, anthem.


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