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The Lord's vineyard, 24 July 2014

In French "to be in the Lord's vineyard" means to be drunk.

This is a "film of the play",a play from the mainstream popular theater ,and the remake of the 1932 movie.

Let's accentuate the positive :Be patient ,for Fernandel appears at the 19th minute ;the supporting actors are all excellent:Simone Valère ,Pierre Dux ,Jeanne Fusier-Gir("I married a M.O."),and the lovely brunette Evelyne Dandry who finally found a good part in Ozon's first effort "sitcom" (1997),cast here as a false wide-eyed and innocent ingénue ;Beatrice Bretty as an unwed mom ,in search of a good catch for her daughter;Jean Garland plays the part of a typical English gentleman,but he is French. The best scene remains ,like in the first version ,the "confession" of the sinner Fernandel who has lost all self-control Under the influence of booze.

Fernandel made many movies with Jean Boyer ,but this one is not among the best;take "Sénéchal Le Magnifique" or "Le Couturier De Ces Dames " instead.

My granddad was a baron., 21 July 2014

This movie was made for Luis Mariano's fans ,only for them;if you are not,you must move on.The Bel Canto aficionados will be overjoyed ,for ,like all Mariano's vehicles such as "Violettes Impériales" ,it is a musical ,including sequences in costume .

The beginning when the girls' idol's wedding is announced is quite realistic ,although the chosen one remains quite obscure .Things go downhill afterward ,as far the screenplay is concerned.

The singer is a genuine noble ,and his granddaddy ,about to die (or is he a great pretender?) of an attack ,wants the prodigal Grandson to come home ,that is to the ancestors ' desirable château.It will be the scene of light-hearted coming and goings of lovers ,a kind of thing the average viewer has seen a hundred times or more.

Brunette Maria Mauban was one of the stars of the French fifties ,but never made a memorable movie before calling quit in 1958.Jules Berry overplays and is quite unbearable (he overplayed in "Le Jour Se Lève" too,but in a sublime way;pick up Carné's or Renoir's works,if you want to see what the man is capable of).Louis De Funès appears in numerous scenes,as the faithful servant,but he is not really given a single chance to shine .

For Mariano's fans only.He possessed an outstanding voice,but was a very limited actor.

Hi Doc (1957)
A doctor's work is never done., 21 July 2014

That was the time when doctors made house calls;then there were the office hours;our hero ,a "Toubib" (=doc),is a Good Samaritan,committed to his work ,ceaselessly coming out,to see a terminally-ill old lady in the hospital or visit a hoarse Chanteuse ;needless to say,he gulps his lunch down,eager to come back to his patients .A saint of a doctor!

These goody-two-shoes characters were Noel-Noel's métier :the discreet resistant in "Le Père Tranquille " (1946) or the supervisor with a golden heart who shows delinquent youth the straight and narrow through music and singing in "La Cage Aux Rossignols " (1945,extremely successfully remade as "Les Choristes ")

There is no unifying thread in the screenplay ,but rather a series of vignettes of a doctor's life ,from dusk to dawn and even then....in the night,in the sleepy city , when our good man is going to sleep the sleep of the just,his phone rings.

A vague plot concerns the doc's offspring "Junior" ,who just failed his final exam in medicine ;but following a misunderstanding,dad thinks sonny brilliantly succeeded and he's telling all the world;the helpless son cannot resign himself to telling the truth to his papa ;besides,he 's got a girlfriend whose daddy steps in .

Awful! The boy does not want to become a doctor anymore. The squeeze's daddy does not want her daughter to marry him!

To solve this kind of problems,there is nothing like a good suicide! Do not panic,everything will work out fine afterward.

The movie begins (and ends) with a voice-over which describes the sleepy city of Paris;an imitation of the prologue of Duvivier's " Sous Le Ciel De Paris" ,but without that director's talent and intellect.

Brain transplant surgery, 21 July 2014

One of the big men of the famous (or notorious,depending on whom you ask) Cahiers Du Cinéma ,Jacques Doniol -Valcroze was less successful when it came to making his own movies:with hindsight ,two of his seven movies really stand out :"La Maison Des Bories" ,an intimate psychological drama(often depicted as"La Princesse De Clèves in Provence" and this one ,a rare French attempt at a sci-fi work.Wunderkind Matthieu Carrière starred in both movies.

A terminally-ill professor (Aumont) asks his colleague(Duchaussoy) to perform a brain transplant,by giving his organ to a young man ,severely wounded in a car crash.Against all odds,the operation succeeds :the professor looks now like a young man ,but he is married to attractive Helena (Nicoletta Macchiavelli)and his own daughter falls in love with him!Freudian isn't it? Do not expect horror scenes,gore ,and monsters:like Doniol-Valcroze's precedent effort,it is a psychological drama ,with philosophical concerns:who am I ,now?

Get back to Bagdad,Scheherazade!, 20 July 2014

797....Charlemagne and Haroun Al Rachid are the most powerful sovereigns of the world ;both strengthen their authority through Christianity and Islam respectively.

Haroun Al Rachid's reign was flourishing ,he protected the arts and the famous "One Thousand and one nights " bears witness of the brilliant literature of the era.

Charlemagne formed political contacts with his oriental equivalent who sent him an embassy and presents including a clepsydra;The Western Europe master wanted the Muslim caliph to protect the Christian monasteries and to let the pilgrims go and pray on Christ's tomb.

That's when our story begins:three gallant knights,Renaud (Gerard Barray ) ,Didier (Giuliano Gemma) and Thierry (Gil Vidal) arrive in Bagdad to ask for religious tolerance ;the caliph will later agree,and it's the only historical fact in a two-hour movie.

On Their way to Bagdad,they come to a damsel in distress 's rescue (Karina)and take her to the caliph who must choose his wife .Karina is Schéhérazade (check the title) ,but not the beautiful lady whose tales used to keep the sultan awake for one and thousand nights ;it was the movie which was supposed to thrust straight-faced Karina into the mainstream ,and it does ,in a way,for after watching this far-fetched tale,you will not need some aspirin ,as it is often the case with her then-partner Jean-Luc's works.

The first part is relatively coherent ,with two or three good moments :the three tests ,the beautiful woman handed over to a bunch of ugly dirty beggars ,and the village where nobody wants to cure the valiant knight and repeats "Bagdad".

The second part is a horse of a different color: a sprawling development,with a harem where absolutely anyone can just walk in (it is reportedly said that Haround had 200 wives!) ,a hateful Egyptian(?) rival (Marilu Tolo),and her accomplice who wants to be top dog.The escape across the desert Under a blistering sun shows the influence of HGClouzot's "Manon" ;the director even has Barray scream 'now she's mine,you Haroun,can't you hear me? aping Michel Auclair.

History is really given a rough ride,but it is entertaining on a rainy day ;today,the movie has Fallen into oblivion,being ignored by everybody.

NB :Pierre Gaspard -Huit took Barray again,after "Le Capitaine Fracasse" ,in which he played the villain opposite Jean Marais.

Never wake a sleepwalker, 20 July 2014

If you want to watch this movie,do not read Guy Bellinger's storyline on main page:it spoils the excellent ending ,the unexpected twist of a movie which is far from excellent;some scenes are funny but the screenplay is repetitive ,and in spite of the reliable principal ,too much sleepwalking becomes a bit irritating all in all.And ,as far as the viewer is concerned ,it stands in danger of contaminating him.

The best scenes are not in the main plot:Andrex and his gang of two-bit hoodlums do not really stand out.One can prefer:

-the beginning with the feeding bottle which,in a way,reveals Boniface's intimate longing;then the shoplifter and his three hands;the manager who wants to shake hands with his insightful private eye .

-Boniface ,sleepwalking,winds up in.....Louis De Funès's and wife's bed ,a scene fans of the two actors might not want to miss.

-And the final scene (see above):and they all lived happily ever after.Or should I say "almost happily"!

Surcouf,here come the corsairs!, 20 July 2014

At the time ,Gerard Barray was the actor they hired when they were not able to get Jean Marais (who had left the swashbuckler genre for the broader horizons of the cloak and dagger anyway).Barray ,who was also a stage actor,had plenty of go and is par excellence the handsome dashing hero.(the two "Pardaillan" movies are today still watchable because of him)

Surcouf was certainly much less handsome than Barray,if we look at his picture ,but he had an eventful life ,probably the greatest corsair France ever had ;at the end of his life,probably of cancer (1828) ,he was wealthy (and generous) .His wife Marie-Catherine gave birth to numerous children;like in the movie,she came from a rich family from Saint-Malo but the evil jealous rival (who provides the movie with its villain) was made from start to finish by the screenwriters .Genevieve Casile ,who plays Marie-Catherine ,a wasted part,was mainly a stage actress (notably Corneille's "Le Cid" ) That said, in spite of two sea battles ,the screenplay fails to excite me ;as the precedent user noticed,this is a fairly uninteresting mission and Surcouf's second love interest (Antonella Lualdi ,an Italian beauty cast as English high born lady ) is decorative at best .Josephine,Premier Consul Napoleon's first wife ,makes a "guest " appearance .

Surcouf's triangular trade activities are wisely passed over in silence ,for the movie was primarily aimed at the children's market.

There's a stodgy song by the Compagnons De La Chanson ,inspired by an old sailor folksong ,which was watered-down (the word "s......" was replaced by the harmless "zut".

The movie was a commercial success and spawned a sequel.

Black List (1984)
Black list indeed!, 19 July 2014

Watch out !The poster on IMDb main page is NOT that of the movie! I have always liked Girardot ,a talented natural nice actress ;but her career ran into difficulties in the eighties:this movie ,a commercial flop was the beginning of a long decline,which ended in the late nineties /early naughties,before she got Alzheilmer's disease.

André Cayatte ,who could direct Girardot quite well ,had called it a day in 1978 and the actress is left to her own device.In a screenplay full of plot holes,it is a plea for self-defense and I-take-the-law-in-my-hands ,not exactly Girardot's ideas(she was known as a very liberal person) .

Girardot could deeply move her audience and bring tears to your eyes (see" Mourir D'aimer" for instance);but here enough is enough! This Girardot-turned -Rambo will only convince mindless action-packed movie buffs

One hour to live, 19 July 2014

Only one review,by a true connoisseur of French cinema,Mr Guenot. He panned it;I deeply respect this reliable writer,but I tend to disagree.

First of all,this is the second French movie in REAL TIME (no,the new wave did not invent the technique with "Cleo De Cinq A Sept" (1962)!) after Leonide Moguy's "Le Deserteur " aka "Je T'Attendrai "(1939,thus before "rope" (1948) and the set up (1949)).

WW2 is coming to an end ;on the seaside,resistant fighters are captured and imprisoned in a basement ;within an hour ,all of them will be shot .An hour of fear ,of impossible dreams ,of false hopes .Based on a Bernanos play ,it sometimes recall ,by the subject of sacrifice (a sacrifice of an average human being is not an average one),"Dialogue Des Carmélites ",in which nuns ,during the French Revolution,were guillotined ,because they would have betrayed their faith if they had accepted the new rules).

Robert Hossein doesn't overplay:his part demands that he should show his fear of an impending death;he's the only one who understands German ,which might be a blessing and a curse .

Marina Vlady (at the time,Hossein's real life wife) has the best line;when the prisoners are asked if there is a Jew among them, she simply answers "If there were one,we all would be Jews too " .

The final scenes were probably influenced by Stanley Kubrik's "paths of glory" and may seem a bit turgid,but they retain a certain greatness ; Jean Valère's first movie, though praised when it was released ,and a prize-winner at that,is ignored by the Dictionnaire Des Films today .His other movies such "LA Femme Ecarlate " or " Mont-Dragon" are worthless.

Not a masterpiece but 77 min which deserve your undivided attention.

like this ? try these .....

"Jéricho" (by the unfairly overlooked Henri Calef,1945) "LE Repas Des Fauves "(Christian-Jaque 1964)

Rebels with a cause, 24 June 2014

A movie which must have scared lots of people for,to my knowledge ,TV screened it for the first time this very year;in the theaters ,its release was secret and anyway it would have certainly failed ,since it completely refused the star system (which many so called subversive movies in the Wake of the events of May 68 did not avoid :'Tout Va Bien " by His Majesty Godard starred Yves Montand and Jane Fonda).The final cast and credits do show a collective work:the non -Professional (in the majority) and professional actors are treated on an equal footing with the technicians ,the screenwriters and the director .

Far from Godard's intellectual abstract didactics ," Coup Pour Coup" is close to documentary (cinema verite)and some entire scenes seem to have been improvised .

In a textile factory ,women are exploited by the local boss,MR Boursac (what a name : "purse bag"!);the Tycoon divides and rules,sitting comfortably in his desirable mansion :his foremen (and forewoman:only one!)throw their weight around;tired of being treated like slaves ,the workers rebel :the strikers have occupied the place and they take the boss hostage ,in spite of some older workers' reluctance .It was the time of women's lib's coming of age and thus enormously significant :their husbands generally support them but some of them still show a macho attitude ("who's gonna cook my steak for lunch?).It's interesting to notice the farmer's solidarity who sells his milk at a cost price (how amazed the woman are,when they compare it with the price they pay in the supermarkets).

No star ,no central character ,the crowds are the heroes ,in the grand tradition of Eisenstein ;the director is no match for the Russian master,but his movie is never dull and can be considered a time capsule of the post -May 68 era .


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