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Maurice De Canonge's most estimable works are "Grisou" and "Les Trois
Tambours" "Interdit De Sejour" should be restored to favor ,because it
is a genuine film noir,in a way many others are not:the hero is a good
guy,who works ;when he meets a femme fatale ,his descent into hell will
never give him any respite .
An outcast everywhere ,particularly in the normal world in which he used to live in , he tries to find some help in the gangsters' world ,although he was betrayed by his girlfriend's brother , then to become an informer .Sometimes the viewer stops and wonders :"but an innocent guy such as him does not deserve such a raw deal!";this is tragic! The young lad is played by Claude Laydu , a perfect choice ;his peak was Bresson's pitiful priest in "Journal D'Un Curé De Campagne" ;and he was also cast as 'the most miserable schoolteacher in France" in Delannoy's "La Route Napoleon" ;at the time,nobody could play the victim as he used to do.
For all that,and against all odds,the movie (probably because of Albert Simonin's wit)is sometimes very funny ;the clueless lad thinks his love works in the international relations (!) which she does ,in a way ,for she is a whore in two Montmartre bars ,and there were American soldiers in France in the fifties! A young Michel Piccoli is also cast as a gangster ,and Daniel Cauchy Melville will use in "Bob Le Flambeur" plays the hero's evil genius.
Give this flick a chance!
Michel Boisrond has made rather mediocre movies in an undistinguished
"Un Soir Sur La Plage" is relatively interesting;the cast includes highly talented Jean Dessailly,Martine Carol,a cast against type Michel Galabru as the cop (whereas he was essentially a comic actor then ,in such comedies as "The Gendarmes series " where he would team up with De Funes and Genevieve Grad ,here cast as Carol's daughter).The biggest surprise is sixties starlet Daliah Lavi as a simple-minded nymphomaniac girl who is murdered on the beach.
The story is essentially a whodunit :in Martine Carol's house,there are many people (too many people actually) and they all have a reason to get rid of her ;do not expect a tour De force à la Agatha Christie :the solution is banal.
More interesting than the plot : the subjects which are hinted at : abortion,still illegal in 1961,and even euthanasia (although Cayatte and Richard Pottier had already broached the latter in the fifties ) And the last picture ,with the cop and his culprit in the car ,makes the ending less trite it might have seemed
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Ah !the call of the desert! In the thirties "L'Atlantide " "Le Grand
Jeu " "La Bandera" among others .
In The late forties and the fifties ,some directors would continue the tradition ,often for worse.
"L'Escadron Blanc" : let's be precise:the movie does not deal with legionnaires but with soldiers in the French Camel Corps .
This is a nothing plot ,without a single endearing character ;the soldiers (note that the soldiers are natives whereas the officers (and the warrant officer played by René Lefèvre ,who tells the tale) are French ;the documentary side is the only asset : the natives speak their own language (and not pidgin French) ,they do what they must do in real life (they kill a dying camel and share the flesh),they are generally loyal .On the other hand ,all that concerns the French is business as usual: of course the two officers do not get on well,the young one,an inexperienced young man fresh from the academy ,consumed with fever from the beginning to the end (and however ,it is he who will survive!) As for the story ,the soldiers must capture a pillaging band...
If you're going to appreciate Claude Sautet's first,you'd best forget
about all those movies he made afterward ,film noir (" Classes Tous
Risques " "Max et Les Ferrailleurs",IMHO ,his best works along with
"Les Choses De La Vie") ) or "meaningful" "deep " psychological dramas
about Cesar,Rosalie,Vincent ,François and the others .
This is part musical ,part music hall ,part slapstick farce and part romantic drama ;and this is a heavy-handed affair.
In a small principality ,inspired by Monaco and San Marino, a princess about to marry never smiles ;and she must smile before she walks up the aisle ;so secret agents kidnap four variety artists and hold them in the palace till they brighten up the wistful girl.
Most of the viewers will probably have a look cause Louis De Funès is in it ,although he is not really given a chance to shine,the producers fearing he might overshadow the four principals.
Only two of the principals,Henri Salvador (recently deceased) and Annie Cordy are still well known in France ;the most intriguing of the lot is Jimmy Gaillard ,who began as a child in the twenties (Duvivier's "Mystere De La Tour Eiffel ) ,then continued his career as a grown up in moderately pleasant comedies ("L'Amant De Bornéo" " Gringalet" )and ended,if we are to believe the screenwriters,as a stand up comic. At least 30% of the movie consists of music hall numbers and they are not particularly enjoyable ;Cordy's "Fleur De Papillon'" is not really exciting,at least to these ears ,and Salvador's ditties are not better.
All in all,it's a young clueless Jean Carmet who plays his game well;cast ,not as an entertainer -though he is one,and his career in the movies would prove more interesting than the three aforementioned artists-,but as an entertainer's cousin ,from a small Normandy town;in a Bourvil-like performance ,he is really the stand out.
That was next-to-last effort by director Leo Joannon,before he called
it quits with "Les Arnaud " ,another collaboration with Bourvil
(co-starring with pop star Adamo) the following year .
Leo Joannon's career was erratic ,with estimable comedies in the thirties (Vous n'Avez Rien A Déclarer?) ,the final (and doomed ) Laurel and Hardy's effort ("Atoll K") involuntary hilarious "serious" Christian melodramas ("Le Défroqué" "Le Désert De Pigalle") "Trois Enfants Dans Le Désordre " is a return to pre-war obsolete comedies.Thanks to Bourvil (and to a lesser degree Jean Lefèvre ,a notch or two above his usual playing skills),an action-packed good beginning (the thirty first minutes,roughly) ,the movie is funny (in places);then it degenerates into a heavy-handed slapstick comedy .
To save his building firm ,Bourvil is forced to adopt three children: a little brat,then a teenage idol and finally a Young thief ;one can notice that in Joannon's final movie ,"Les Arnaud" ,Bourvil adopts a poor young student too:and the highbrows say that director is not an auteur!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
look she said while opening the curtains,here they are ......
"inspired by the poem by Victor Hugo "Les Pauvres Gens" " appears after the last picture ;This is one of my favorite poems ,an epic one which depicts the struggle of humble fishermen and their wives :Jeanie and her husband are poor and they live in a hut by the sea ;their neighbor ,a widow ,died .Unbeknownst to their spouse,they both decide to take in the two orphans ."Nous Avions Cinq Enfants ,Cela Va En Faire Sept" (we had five children ,now it will make seven).Humble heroes in the shadow ,like Marie-Claire and her husband.
And there was this old song ,one of the big hits of French Winter 1966-67, a wintry song by Pascal Danel ,who said he was inspired by Hemingway .This is really a memorable wonderful song which thoroughly deserved its success.
And there was Darroussin and Ascaride ,both in a Cesar caliber performance ;the actress is absolutely sublime when they sing the song to celebrate their wedding anniversary ,a scene to rival the best of the classic cinema of Pagnol, Carné ,Duvivier or Grémillon ;I cannot think of another living actress whose face expresses compassion or true happiness as Miss Ascaride does .All her life ,she had to sacrifice her dearest dreams (becoming a nurse ,and now spending the Holiday of her lifetime ) and yet she says ,"I've always been happy" :so strong is her conviction that we do believe her .There's a stunning chemistry between her and Darroussin whose playing is miraculous too :an unionist whose illusions have gone,slowly by inexorably ,down the drain:but he remained true to himself ,true to Jean Jaurès,the great pacifist who was the first French victim of WW1;his "return good for evil" philosophy shows that sincere socialism (not the champagne socialists) and Jesus Christ's words (not the political Church)-without a single hint at religion in the film- come to the same conclusion ,Victor Hugo Guédiguian mentions at the end of his work was a Christian and a socialist .
And there is Mr Guédiguian :we already knew ("La Ville est Tranquille " and other magnificent generous works) he was one of the greatest living directors in France ,along with Philippe Lioret ,with whom he shares the same sympathy for the human kind ;they show ,like Frank Capra and Frank Borzage in America before them ,that finer feelings may mean,when a clever director is in control, deeply moving efforts .
No sex ,no violence (except for two short sequences ,no commercial dishonest compromise;as high as Kilimandjaro!
Based on a cartoon which was published in magazines ,this "Clementine
Chérie " hits rock bottom,as far as French comedies are concerned . A
false good idea :" a man invents bathing suits the fabric of which is
very special: women can get a tan even if they wear
it;nevertheless,there is a big problem : the film is not exposed (by
the magic fabric) ;so how funny it is,the women appear in their
birthday's suit on the photographs and when they are filmed live on TV
,much to the viewers' surprise (and joy).
With smart screenwriters and a decent director ,it could have been a hilarious comedy ,considering the talent of some of the actors involved (Philippe Noiret,Jean Tissier ,Jacques Dufilho,Michel Serrault )but the gags are heavy-handed ,the script is incoherent and the aforementioned thespians are left to their own devices :which is particularly atrocious for the poor Dufilho ,cast (you read well)as the Spanish maid -it was chic ,in the sixties ,for the bourgeois family to hire a Spanish domestic!- .Michel Serrault is cast as the bailiff ,coming to "record that the women do get their tan under their bathing suit ".
France Anglade ,the female star ,got lost in mediocrities and her career suffered accordingly ;this part may (or may not) help her get the part of "Caroline Chérie" ,the doomed remake of Richard Pottier's pleasant movie.
Italian pop singer Rita Pavone -who made a short breakthrough in the early sixties in France- gets the guests twisting.
Marcel Cravenne essentially worked for TV :and yet ,his "Danse De Mort
" is one of the best post -war French movies and one of the two great
overlooked Von Stroheim's parts of that era ,the other being "La Foire
Aux Chimères ".
Both Cravenne's and Pierre Chenal's movie have in common an absolute pessimism ;Von Stroheim portrays fallen aristocrats ,humiliated men,no other actor played the humiliated demeaned man like the director of "Greed" could .And remember "Sunset blvd" :Max Von Mayerling was a fallen director ,exactly what happened to him in real life.The entire French career as an actor of Mr Von Stroheim should be studied :even in a supporting part (say "Pièges" ,Siodmak ,1939) he played a man still dreaming of former glories gone long ago.
In "Danse De Mort " he plays opposite his wife in real life,Denise Vernac ,(they would play again together in "Le Signal Rouge" (1948))
"Danse De Mort " or the portrait of two monsters ,in an enclosed place (the cast and credits over bars shadow over a wall is revealing) : a sinister fortress on an island where the sun never seems to shine . Von Stroheim portrays an officer whose values have long gone a thing of the past ;he commands that prison ,but he is more captive than any of his prisoners ,as free as a padlocked prison door;his love for his wife has turned slowly but inexorably into hatred;at the beginning of the movie,he makes desperate vain attempts to win her back ,notably during the pathetic silver wedding party ;he is no more the dashing officer with good prospects ,but a bitter aging pitiful coward ;every time he tries to show his authority , when he speaks to his subalterns ,he's actually trying to convince himself he is still a man of honor.
Matching him every step of the way (which was not an easy task ,with an actor such as VS) is Denise Vernac as his frustrated selfish hateful spouse :like Madame Bovary (see the first scene ,that of the ball,probably the last romantic moment of a married woman still dreaming ,as she is waltzing with a handsome M.O . (played by the always reliable Jean Servais:the character will return later on to watch the couple tear each other apart).
Although there were no big budgets after the war ,Cravenne made the best of his settings ,with stunning views of his lugubrious island and a stair which looks like a cage .
-VS forces his wife to play the piano and he begins to dance;knowing he has a heart condition ,she speeds us the rhythm :she hopes it will kill him;directing is absolutely stunning and the editing is perfect ;as he collapses on the floor,she keeps on playing .Jean Servais ,who watches the whole scene ,cannot believe his eyes as he discovers that his former romantic dancer has turned into a ruthless shrew.
-The doomed escape of a prisoner,on the lake lightened by fireworks.
-The old lady ,watching behind the bars her daughter leaving this living hell ;it represents all that she will never have.
Like this ? Try these....
"Le Désert Des Tartares " (Valerio Zurlini,1976)
"La Foire Aux Chimères " (Pierre Chenal,1946)
IT was a time Romy Schneider was sick and tired of playing
nice costume heroines in soap operas based on historic figures (Sissi,Victoria)or fiction (this one,among many others). One more -Siomak's "Katia"-,and she would leave for the broader horizons of Welles ,Visconti or Preminger.
Romy herself is going through the motions,she no longer possesses the stamina and the Joie De Vivre which made,even today ,the Sissi saga still enjoyable.It's an actress who is longing for something else ,and it would not be long before she ditched these "disgusting" pastries (thus Romy)
"Die Schöne Lügnerin" is one of the weakest efforts of the genre :it is an umpteenth update of "Cinderella" with elements borrowed from Sissi (including the actor who played Colonel :Josef Meinrad) or "Die Deutschmeister".
Light (very light) gallantries including this dressmaker and three male nobles :the czar of Russia,the prince of Metternich and a duke .
Jean-Claude Pascal ,who was a famous romantic lead in the fifties ,was already on the wane and he tried to move into singing in the sixties (he won the Eurovision contest)before falling into oblivion (he died unnoticed).He plays the czar .
Paul Guers ,who plays the French noble,did not have his day in the movies ;too bad for an actor who played "the cat on a hot tin roof" (the part of Brick);after performing Tennessee Williams ,he deserved a better career.
An optimistic version of "Christine" ,so to speak:the proletarian in love with the aristocrat.Or something like that.
The "Disque " of the title is a sign on the railroad which used to
indicate a switching(shunting);it means in Poirier's work a one-way
The action takes place in Africa ,in WW1.Ethiopia remained neutral but Djibouti was French and the start of the line to Addis-Abeba;hence its strategic importance.And a good background for a spy thriller.
On the plus side,the movie was filmed on location in 1933!It featured real natives and Ethiopian actors ,and no pidgin French! Unfortunately ,the female lead ,Gina Manès (who played Josephine in Gance's Napoleon ) ,is still playing as she did in the silent age:her overplaying is ridiculous ;in the last sequences it becomes so theatrical,so histrionic it is almost unbearable ;and this story of a poisoned engineer and the race against the clock to find an antidote cannot be taken seriously ,in spite of an usually inventive use of the railroad track in the last minutes .A bit misogynistic ,all the same!
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