It is always a great emotion to watch Michel Simon, perhaps the greatest french-speaking comedian ever, whether he appears in Carné's or Duvivier's pre-war masterpieces or in mediocre films by third rate directors. But it is actually the same emotion to watch him in the role of Michel Simon. As noted by Sacha Guitry in the prologue of La Poison, with him there is no reason to stop filming as no one knows when he starts or stops acting. Guitry was perhaps the only established director to trust Michel Simon and offer him major roles at the end of his career which Jean Renoir certainly did not, and this is why it is particularly painful to watch his hypocritical demonstrations of friendship and interest. Renoir's idea was probably to entertain his court of young admirers (Rivette et al.) by showing them some old freak. But in spite of his endless but insignificant talking, Renoir just does not exist in front of Michel Simon.
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