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Strange destiny ! Jean Herman (aka Jean Vautrin)began as a film director with moderate-to-good success and ended as a famous thriller writer .
"Le Dimanche De La Vie" is unique .No other film of the sixties can be compared to it;it's not Nouvelle Vague stuff,thanks God ,it's something different .Based on Raymond Queneau's book ,it tries to find an equivalent of his style.
Although there are funny scenes and some fine lines,it has nothing to do with the French comedies of the era,the likes of Jean Girault and Gerard Oury.It's not that palatable and may put off many viewers.
The screenplay goes like this (or maybe it's something else): a still attractive lady (Danielle Darrieux in her strangest part)realizes that time is passing her by and she wants to marry a young virgin,who has been in the army for five years but has remained a private .After a honeymoon in Brugges (or is it in Paris? in a tourist agency?) he spent alone ,he ends up in a cemetery where he meets an old lady who's just buried her husband Clodomir ;he inherits an "all framing undertaken" shop;his wife discovers she is clairvoyant and she becomes "Madame Saphir" a fortune teller whose customers want to know the "present" ;in the meanwhile ,their brother-in-law ,who owns an arms factory, rubs his hands:rumors of war spread all over the country;but a former sergeant of the young framer tells him that "war is impossible now" .
It is meaningless writing it does not make any sense ;like Prevert ,it makes sense in Queneau's sense..The whole story takes place between 1936 and 1939 and you've got to pay attention to realize how serious things the writer says.The army and the bourgeoisie are depicted in a vitriolic style.There is also an obsession with time ,as the hero is always turning back the clock,maybe to keep the calendar on Sunday ,on a life made of Sundays .Being clairvoyant only makes the matters worse,as the last pictures show ,a very "modern" ending for the time.
After this movie (I have not seen his shorts and his first feature -film ("Le Chemin De La Mauvaise Route"),Herman returned to a much more accessible style:his first thriller "Adieu L'Ami" feat Charles Bronson and Alain Delon ,was a blockbuster ,and the follow-up " Jeff" (also feat Delon) won moderate success.In 1970 "Popsy Pop " feat Claudia Cardinale and Henri Charrière (aka "Papillon" whose part was played later by Steve McQueen) was a flop,a situation which "L'Oeuf" (1971) did nothing to rectify.He called it a day as a director and made it as a writer.
Like this?try these.....
"Juliette Ou La Clé Des Songes" Marcel Carné ,1951
"Zazie Dans Le Metro" ,Louis Malle,1960,also from Queneau.
"Le Fantôme De La Liberté " ,Luis Bunuel,1974
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