Before she became the vampish femme fatale luring Jean Gabin to his downfall in "Pépé le Moko" and "Gueule d'amour", Mireille Balin spent several years playing the standard love interest in a handful of lightweight comedies such as this one by Léo Joannon.
"On a trouvé une femme nue" finds her in a role that couldn't be further from her later, immaculately styled persona. Here, she's the tweedy daughter of a down-at-heels aristocrat (Saturnin Fabre) who decides that a marriage of convenience is the only way to save the family from ruin. As her last night of freedom, she attends a toga party being thrown by medical students, unaware of one important rule: any woman not dressed as a Roman will be stripped naked. Balin escapes into the Parisian night but not before being relieved of all her clothes except for a mask and a pair of high heels.
It's not unusual to catch a glimpse of bare flesh in a mainstream French film of this period, but rarer for one of the stars to get naked (though not unprecedented - Arletty has a topless bathing scene in the previous year's "Un soir de réveillon"). Balin was offered a body double but declined. However, she wears an eye mask throughout the scene and is only shown naked from behind.
Aside from the promise of mild titillation, and the always reliable Saturnin Fabre, there's little to recommend this film. Much of the comedy seems to be based on the theory that watching people getting drunk and having a good time is equivalent to having a good time yourself - a theory which this movie sufficiently disproves. The most effective scene is when Balin, covered up in an overcoat and top hat, spends an evening with her prospective husband, played with boyish charm by Paul Bernard (this was before Jean Grémillon added a darker shade to Bernard's charm in "Lumière d'été" and "Pattes blanches"). It's a sweetly romantic interlude that almost redeems the film. Almost, but not quite, as Joannon repeatedly interrupts it with shots of Jean Gobet playing the most irritating screen drunk I've seen in a long time.
Joannon was capable of much better work than this - in particular, 1942's "Caprices" with Danielle Darrieux and Albert Préjean, a screwball entertainment in the American style, and one of the best comedies of the war years.
An interesting aspect of this film is the way the cast appear on screen at the start to introduce themselves. It's an idea that predates Sacha Guitry's regular practice of using spoken credits.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?