.... a comedy, with some few very sad moments. Pierre Chenal is still not enough recognized nowadays. Some might know "le Dernier Tournant" (because it is the first version of "the Postman Always Rings Twice") or "Rafles Sur la Ville" (with Piccoli, Mouloudji and Vanel) but who really knows his other films from the thirties with fantastic cast and inventive direction. And what about his true masterpiece "la Foire Aux Chimères" with Erich von Stroheim et Madeleine Sologne, still not available on DVD (and not even ever released on video cassette)? And I'm not talking about his films shot in Argentina, I would love to see them (I just saw "Section des Disparus", nice adaptation from William Irish).
In 1933, Pierre Chenal was tired of filming stones and tramps in documentaries. He met Christian Stengel who was going to produce his first movie, this "Martyre de l'Obèse". Chenal accepted it to realize his first fiction. It wasn't easy because of a lot of tension between him and the actors and technicians. The movie didn't work but Christian Stengel thought it was well done, so he produced and wrote other movies with Pierre Chenal, and real better ones.
"I consider Pierre as a nice man. Intelligent too : I trusted him when he began. After, there was friendship..." (Christian Stengel at Marly-le-Roi, 26-01-1985).
A first movie is seldom a masterpiece, but there are some good ideas in this one. Like at the banquet of the Club of 100 kilos, when the 17 guests get seated at the round table, a half moon of the table disappeared in front of each belly to let them install. An idea by Pierre Chenal who got inspired by Louis VI the Big.
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