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In occupied France, German-run Continental Films calls the shots in the movie business. Assistant director and Resistance activist Jean Devaivre works for Continental, where he can get "in between the wolf's teeth and avoid being chewed up". Fast-living screenwriter Jean Aurenche uses every possible argument to avoid working for the enemy. For both, wartime is a battle for survival. Written by
This is a film directed by Bertrand Tavernier. I loved his film IT ALL STARTS TODAY, and I was quite impressed by this one as well. However, be forewarned that this film will not be for all tastes. If you are French or have a good knowledge of French cinema, then you'll no doubt enjoy this film. Otherwise, you may find yourself very confused and bored, as the movie is 163 minutes long. I enjoyed it though, because they made reference to many films, directors and actors who worked under this system whose work I have seen (such as Clouzot and his film THE RAVEN and the Swiss actor Michel Simon).
The film concerns the French film industry during the Nazi occupation. Despite the Germans running things, they did allow the French to continue making films--so long as they didn't violate Nazi sensibilities. After the war, some of these people who continued making films were sharply criticized as collaborators. This film focuses on two people in the business and illustrated that there were many different motivations for working in the film industry at this time. Some simply had no choice (work or die), some needed jobs, some gladly embraced evil and some worked in the film business while actively fighting the Nazis. The two men are a very busy writer and an assistant director. The writer (Jean Aurenche) has a very shallow, if not non-existent moral compass, as he is most concerned with sexual conquests and not "rocking the boat". The assistant director (Jean-Devaivre), in sharp contrast, is a loving family man who also works with the Resistance and takes great risks for what he knows is right.
The writing, directing and acting are all first-rate and it was an excellent film--especially from a historical standpoint. By the way, the two main characters were real figures in the film industry. In fact, Jean-Devaivre wrote the book on which the movie is based.
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