A man and a woman arrive in a cafe-hotel near the Belgian frontier. The customers recognize the man from the police description. His name is Amedee Lange, and he murdered Batala in Paris. ...
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A man and a woman arrive in a cafe-hotel near the Belgian frontier. The customers recognize the man from the police description. His name is Amedee Lange, and he murdered Batala in Paris. His ladyfriend Valentine tells the whole story: Lange was an employee in Batala's little printing works. Batala was a real bastard, swindling everyone, seducing female workers of Valentine's laundry - One day, he fled to avoid facing his creditors, and the workers set up a cooperative to go on working. But the plot is less important that the description of the atmosphere just before the Popular Front.Written by
According to film scholar Alexander Sesonske, the Catalan painter Jean Castanier (also spelled "Castanier") approached his friend Jacques Becker with the idea of a film about "a likable little world of print-shop workers and laundresses who form a cooperative" to be called Sur la Cour, which Becker would direct. Becker was much taken by the idea, but the producer who took on the project didn't trust him, and decided to offer it to the more experienced director Jean Renoir, for whom Becker had already worked as assistant director on several pictures. Becker was reportedly so furious at Renoir for directing "his" film that he refused to work as assistant director on the production, though he would later work again as Renoir's assistant on several films (e.g. La Grande Illusion (1937)), before becoming a full-time director himself. See more »
Has all of Renoir's pace and vivacity, and intriguing politics
It takes a while to locate one's bearings in this work, although that speaks to its emotional and thematic complexity. The film has the constant pace and vivacity and glee that is (stereotypically?) associated with Renoir - the film is something of a romantic whirl, with the interconnections of men and women are beguilingly dramatized in all their fleeting glory. Even the scenes with the wicked boss have an initial joie de vivre. Lange himself retains a restrained calm at the heart of it all - until he comes to illustrate the normal man who takes a desperate, self-sacrificing stand for the good of others. Although idealistic, his action resonates when offset against the explicitly cartoonish heroism of the Arizona Jim character (which we see embodied in some epically corny tableaux), and the impact thrives from being based in a muscular evocation of left-wing collectivist sympathies (a strand that comes over heavily in the almost idyllic scenes of things after the demise of the capitalist - with workers happy and lovers unfettered; although I found the very end of the film a bit puzzling).
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