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dbdumonteil

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In his anger and in his shame .......I'm not leaving!, 16 November 2014

When it was theatrically released ,"Lucky punch" was called "Le Montreur De Boxe" (the traveling boxing exhibitor);the new title is not irrelevant,since it essentially deals with bets on boxing events.

The ninetieth century comes to an end :people have begun to bet on boxing events and a new invention fascinates the crowds :the Cinematograph (one can catch glimpses of the Lumière Bros' "Le Repas De Bébé").So the exhibitor (Richard Bohringer) forms a partnership with the projectionists ;his champion is a clueless sturdy lumberjack . The Young man,as loyal as he is naive,does not want to compete in fixed fights;besides,he is in love with a sweet girlie .

The most moving scene is not,however,the boxer ,crying in his anger in his shame , when he sees his tears are filmed by his squeeze.The best ,IMHO,are to be found at the beginning and at the end of the movie: two pagan funerals by torchlight,in the dark woods.

The movie is so so ,saved by Bohringer ,the best good-and-bad guy of the French cinema.

Moving into the attack., 16 November 2014

Ralph Habib's last effort (he was to die three years later);the very kind of movie which combines business (we've got a movie to make!)with pleasure (Spain is a very nice place to be).

Like so many drudges in the sixties,Habib jumped on the bandwagon and tried his hand at a James Bondesque movie."The lone one" is a French secret agent (Roger Hanin) .There's a "M" -gone when he's needed-,a Moneypenny called Brigitte who retrieves the situation (in a scene obviously borrowed from "Goldfinger" ),a Felix Leiter (portrayed by a cast against type Jean Lefèvre)and several "Lone one girls":one of them is a fair-haired girl,Sophie Agacinski ,who resembles pop singer Sylvie Vartan and who was famous in 1965 for her "Seule A Paris" miniseries.

As for the plot,it deals with a deadly weapon which is stolen and is to be sold to the baddies ;this screenplay is terribly mediocre.

A comic relief borrowed from Astérix :now and then,a couple of tourists mumbles something like "they're crazy,those Spanish".

one silver dollar..., 14 November 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

....as in Marilyn's song in "river of no return",plays a prominent part in the plot.

When the movie begins,essential events already happened ;the sheriff's son is accused of murder.As the trial begins,the distraught father has to set out to prove he is not guilty .We suspect several men ,in this whodunit à la Agatha Christie disguised as a western ;the lead is a silver dollar,which was taken from the stolen money.

Only the last sequences -which are quite derivative- have something to do with true western spirit.All that remains is Hayden's investigation ,and the trial ,during which witnesses give their own view of the facts.The defendant's girlfriend's father reveals something to the sheriff but he can't reveal his secret until...

SPOILER: a good trick which Christie ,Ellery Queen or Conan Doyle would not disown:the hope chest or the "trousseau" as French would say.

like this?Try this...

"time without pity" Joseph Losey,1956

Valerie (1957)
Angel or demon?, 14 November 2014

Like in "the iron sheriff" ,which also features Hayden as the lead,the movie begins when many important events happened .

In this whodunit disguised as western, the hero wanted to piece together the past ,meeting several suspects ,during his son' s trial .We watched the story through different eyes .

The same goes for "Valerie" which is nothing but a long flashback;whereas the scenes are told by the hero or his lawyer or by the showdown's victim,the story takes an entirely new meaning .The main inspiration is not the traditional western,but rather Japanese Kurosawa's "Rashomon"(1950) -which was remade by Martin Ritt as ""the outrage" (1964) The story sustains interest throughout ,except for the final scenes which are botched.Anita Ekberg possesses enough ambiguity to pass for an angel or a demon.Sterling Hayden is ,as usual,an imposing individual,even in the scenes of his trial when he is supposed to keep a low profile.

Like lover,like son., 14 November 2014

Third installment in the Caroline Chérie saga;although she is not mentioned in the cast and credits ,the audience probably thought that maybe Martine Carol would make a guest appearance:for that matter,let's recognize that the last picture is rather smart.

Only Jacques Dacqmine takes on his part of a French general;Jean-Claude Pascal ,who was featured in "Un Caprice De Caroline Chérie"too ,is cast as Caroline's son whereas he played her lover in the precedent episode .Dad,however , does not seem to call his dubious paternity into question.

The first episode of the saga,probably because the lines were written by Jean Anouilh is the one to Watch if you are fond of eventful gallant adventures ;this one takes place in Spain,where Napoleon put his brother Joseph on the throne and pits the French army against the guerrillas who fight for a free Spain;even the English soldiers intervene and ,had they watched the movie at the time,it could have suggested them a good idea ,as far as Napoleon's fate was concerned,when he was defeated and fell into their arms.

Like Caroline ,who was shifted around the camp of the revolutionaries and that of the royalists ,Juan if first rejected by everybody,from the resistant fighter who do not want to have a noble among their ranks but use him as a servant to the French general who wants to have him shoot as a spy (his own son,but he does not have a clue!)

Jean-Claude Pascal is a handsome officer ,but without more than a little help of the ladies he meets on his way,he would be defeated every fifteen minutes .One of these dames is none other than a brunette Brigitte Bardot as Pilar ,his would be sister.BB will be ,for most of the male viewers ,the main interest for she appears now and them all along the movie.

L'Amour Te Guette., 9 November 2014

A German movie with a French (although born in Egypt) star,the title of which is also a song ("On N'Aime Qu'Une Fois")featured in it.

A girl comes back to Greece where she meets again her papa ,an eminent scientist,her fiancé (daddy's right-hand man) ,her nanny who occasionally mends broken hearts,and the professor's collaborator ("the only clever woman I know" he says without turning a hair).The newcomer is not good at science and she feels her sweetheart lets her down for his research,being busy getting ready for the next congress;besides she's jealous of the assistant .She meets a restaurant owner with a golden voice (Georges Guétary)who sings her sentimental songs every ten minutes ;Although he pleases her,she does not know where she stands anymore.And it's the fiancé's turn to suffer:does he stand a chance to win back his girl with such a contender?

A routine screenplay which is a pretext to let the audience hear Guétary's songs ,for those who could not see him perform live on stage .

The movie was often filmed on location in Athens ,and at a time when people would not travel ,it was a big plus ;too bad it was not shot in Afgacolor.

Back to basics, 8 November 2014

With "Charmants Garçons" ,Henri Decoin returned to his former style of the thirties:light-hearted gallantries,comedy ,at the time when he worked when his then-wife Danielle Darrieux.During the following decade ,he peaked with his films Noirs which were the best of the genre in France after those of HG Clouzot and Julien Duvivier.

In the fifties,he would continue with thrillers,although they were not as strong as the forties works.

"Charmants Garçons ",which is a return to sentimental comedy,was probably influenced by Guitry and Duvivier,being a film made up of sketches .There's only one central character ,a woman in search of the ideal man,whereas the men are just passing by.

Zizi Jeanmaire was essentially a dancer and an occasional singer (although her voice leaves a little to be desired),and here a nice actress who resembles fifties star Pascale Petit and a dash of Arletty in her delivery.

Lulu is a night club dancer and she tries to meet as many men as she can to find the man in a million.The first segments are to be found in the first half:the most successful one is the moment when a self-conscious François Périer tells his straight-faced wife he wants a divorce,in which Charles Spaak's lines equal Guitry's ;and if it were not enough,his best friend shows him his futuristic kitchen "so that he won't need any woman and will be able to enjoy bachelorhood ",ice on the cake indeed!

Another successful sequence takes place in a chic restaurant where lulu meets the two Vidal,Gil and Henri: the former is an old sour-tempered maid's gigolo,the latter a boxer:his next boxing match is for tonight and ,in the meantime,he is not allowed to smoke,to drink and to sleep with women.He remains adamant ,but Lulu is looking forward to having a private fight afterward;she watches the match on a tiny fifties TV screen:close-up shots ,technical problems ,and interlude -an unbearable "Chanteuse" . Her boxer triumphs but ....

Lulu is really down on her luck with men: a fat wealthy German oafish woos her ceaselessly ,and another one of her fancy leaves her for another younger dude .Will she find Him some day?

This is an uneven work,but its several funny moments make it finally worthwhile.

Up where I belong, 7 November 2014

The precedent user did not like the movie because he is an aviation buff.If you are looking for this kind of film ,you must move on.

It's closer to psychological drama ;in spite of the unquestionable talent of the lead (Lambert Wilson) and the quality of the supporting cast (Jean-Louis Trintignant,his late daughter Marie in a small part,Daniel Auteuil ,Helene Vincent),it does not really convince ;the script is not tight enough and the lines lack emotion ,particularly the hero's frames of mind told in the letters he send to his mother who read them (voice over).

Henry is stifling in his wealthy bourgeois milieu;it's 1914,and we can feel the Union Sacrée (united front presented by the French against the enemy in 1914) in the scene when ,Learning that the war is declared,the characters break into "La Marseillaise".This unity began to deteriorate in 1917,but at the beginning of the war,many French thought the war would be short and they would take over the Alsace and the Lorraine . Those who were not drafted ,enlisted en masse.

Such is henry's case.But he was declared unfit for service (on health grounds :TB)and it was a supreme humiliation ,considering the zeitgeist. So he decided he would be a fight pilot .He is so brilliant an aviator that he's finally enlisted in the Air force.

Henry wanted to be the best of the best .Unfortunately,He is too good for his own good.Unlike the other pilots,he does not go to the brothels when he is on furlough and his mates laugh at him and call him names ("he must be a catholic virgin lad")His Superior too thinks it's better to let well alone and that he demoralizes his squadron:the others do not want to fly with him because "he brings bad luck"

Hence the title :"instinct of the angel" ;but angel of death to some. Henry lives in another world,even in another era ,which may explain the "duel" ,which in 1914 was already becoming a thing of the past(although it was not yet forbidden:for the record ,in France the last duel took place in 1967!)

The final duel is impressive ,but you do not really see the tempers rise ;this grandiose finale looks like it has just been tacked onto the rest of the film .This ambitious subject needed a more ambitious director.

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Gemma Bovary, 4 November 2014

"La Provinciale " (the title is revealing) displays the same hatred from the provinces as "Madame Bovary" ,Gustave Flaubert 's famous novel.Both Moravia's and the French writer's heroines are romantic girls ,who dream of a wealthy life ,in luxury,of a socialite's life ,in Roma or in Paris .Whereas Emma Bovary was born on a farm ,Gemma lives with her mom in a seedy apartment ,but she has privileged access to the aristocratic milieu :the viewer can wonder why,but actually her mother has a terrible secret to conceal.

The movie is well constructed:first,the scene of the dinner when Gemma tries to kill the "carnival" Comtessa ,as a character calls her ,a scene which will be shown again.Then a long flashback which shows the heroine's past and why she feels resentful towards this hateful fat woman for ,although she claims she is her friend,having been some kind of madam,for

even trying to blackmail her .Voices- over reveal the characters ' points of view:Gemma,her mother and her husband.The latter feels guilt although he did nothing really wrong: "I loved books more than my wife".This brilliant scientist,incidentally,is despised by these idle rich,just as Madame Bovary's husband ,a physician, was considered an oafish failure.

When he watches the dinner scene for the second time,the viewer feels the same hate for the false Comtessa ,as the camera stops at Gemma's face ,on the verge of a fit of hysterics.

Gina Lollobrigida proves that she was much more than a pretty face;Gabriele Ferzetti is convincing in a thankless part;but the stand -out is arguably Alda Mangina,who shines as the wife's evil genius.

The fugitive, 4 November 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As the screenplay was written by Gerard Brach ,who also wrote that of "Cul De Sac" ,the resemblance between these two works is striking: a fugitive takes refuge in a manor ("it's Dracula's castle" says one character) where a blind retired thespian lives ;he meets his nephew and his girlfriend who visit him and the Young man ,who sees his sweetheart is slowly falling in love with the intruder,is infuriated.

Like Roman Polanski's 1966 work,it's not a very accessible effort: a doom-laden atmosphere ,in a place which seems out of this world:the last picture shows the castle as isolated as the island in "Cul De Sac". Inside ,armors,statues,old pictures ,picture of decadence which reflect the owner's frames of mind:we know nothing about his career,but he is a fallen star who probably thinks that "he is still big (In his last scene ,he delivers his lines as if he were on a stage ) but it's the pictures (or the stage) that got small ".

The fugitive is apparently very different from the blind host;but actually they have a lot in common :we know absolutely nothing about him too except that he is pursued by killers and has a girlfriend called Isabelle we never see .The coming of the nephew ,a visit motivated by interest ,crystallizes the relationship between the two men :both are beautiful losers ,who already live in another world,epitomized by the mansion :in this world,there' s no place for greedy despicable wimps .

Michel Robin who rarely plays the lead,pulls it off with much restraint;Harvel Keitel,one of Scorcese's favorite actors,had already worked in France (Tavernier's "La Mort En Direct ") ,and in this country ,he seems to give more human performances :he speaks ,now in English ,now in French ,and even when he phones Isabelle ,he makes us feels all his hopes have faded.Supporting cast includes young Richard Anconina and Catherine Frot.

Not exactly entertaining,but haunting ;a wonderful cinematography by Henri Alekan and an unusually inventive sense of space.


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