It is one of the jewels of the collection of movies "inspired by the Vichy ideology",along with " Le Voile Bleu' ,"Péchés De Jeunesse" and "Le Val D'Enfer" ;"Monsieur De Lourdines " can be considered a chic version of "Le Val D'Enfer" as it is also a good example of the "honor thy mother and thy father" precept as well as the good piece of advice "country boy ,don't go to town,it's the place where vice ,debauchery and depravity reign"
Immediate background: Not only this melodrama was made in the Occupation days but it is also the work of Marechal Pétain's son-in-law,based on a novel by Alphonse De Chateaubriand -not to be mistaken for the nineteenth century famous writer -,a veteran fighter turned collaborator .With hindsight ,the movie is highly recommendable today .Directing is painstaking, cast is first-class (particularly Constant Rémy as the noble father and Raymond Rouleau as the bad son )and the pictures are sometimes outstanding: the young guy ,leaving the family castle at the break of day or returning completely broke in the mist of dusk;the faces of the mother and her "little one" filmed in close shots as the desperate lady is dying;the fireplace which seems to set ablaze all the good earth ,the only thing worth living for,in the authors' mind.
The novel was probably inspired by the biblical Prodigal Son .The young man ,who cannot stand his life in the country anymore leaves for Paris and squanders his parents' fortune;then the falls into the clutches of an usurer (Louis Salou).Being 600 000 Francs in debt, he asks for a little help from his dad who ,unbeknownst to his wife ,sells his valuable properties ,which causes her premature death.
Anyone interested in the past of the French cinema should catch this invaluable melodrama which achieves the feat of staying very watchable today whereas it stands up for an obsolete moral;but isn't it the case with most of the movies of the genre?
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