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Port of Shadows (1938)

Le quai des brumes (original title)
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2:25 | Trailer

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A military deserter finds love and trouble (and a small dog) in a smoky French port city.

Director:

Marcel Carné

Writers:

Pierre Dumarchais (novel) (as Pierre Mac Orlan), Jacques Prévert (scenario and dialogue)
Reviews
6 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Jean Gabin ... Jean
Michel Simon ... Zabel
Michèle Morgan ... Nelly
Pierre Brasseur ... Lucien
Édouard Delmont Édouard Delmont ... Panama (as Delmont)
Raymond Aimos Raymond Aimos ... Quart Vittel (as Aimos)
Robert Le Vigan ... Le peintre (as Le Vigan)
René Génin René Génin ... Le docteur (as Genin)
Marcel Pérès Marcel Pérès ... Le chauffeur (as Perez)
Jenny Burnay Jenny Burnay ... L'amie de Lucien
Roger Legris ... Le garçon d'hôtel (as Legris)
Martial Rèbe Martial Rèbe ... Le client
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Storyline

Life's a rotten business, says Jean, a deserter who arrives at night in Le Havre, looking to leave the country. He lucks into civilian clothes, a little bit of money, a passport, and a dog, and he also meets Nelly, a 17-year-old who's grown up too fast. She's the object of lust of men: including a boyfriend Maurice, her putative protector Zabel, and Lucien, a local hood. Jean falls for her, faces down Lucien, and gives her courage to stand on her own feet. A ship is leaving for Venezuela; can at least one of them be on it, or is that just a dream? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Nelly...girl of the waterfront...who at seventeen...had lived far beyond her years See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

29 October 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Port of Shadows See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,641, 16 November 2012, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$26,765, 10 February 2013
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Ciné-Alliance See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film is supposed to be set in the French port of Le Havre, but the streets were actually all built on a sound stage. See more »

Goofs

As the truck approaches Le Havre, Jean's cigarette is at full length in the shot from outside the truck, but in the close-up it has instantly changed into a butt. See more »

Quotes

Quart Vittel: What could be simpler than a tree?
Le peintre: A tree. But when I paint one, it sets everyone on edge. It's because there's someone or something hidden behind that tree. I can't help painting what's hidden behind things. To me a swimmer is already a drowned man.
See more »

Connections

Edited into Spisok korabley (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Like Being Punched Really Hard in the Gut
9 February 2001 | by zetesSee all my reviews

I took a class in French Poetic Realism and Italian Neorealism this past Fall in which I saw many of the best films I will ever see. The third film we watched in the class was Jean Vigo's L'Atalante, which is just about the most gorgeous experience in film viewing I have ever experienced. I left the building in a cloud of euphoria, and I have never stopped thinking about it. One week later, we watched Le Quai des Brumes (Port of Shadows). It affected me greatly in the opposite direction of L'Atalante. It made me lonely and grief-stricken. That is in no way a criticism; for the most part, any film that transforms my emotions, whether for the better or the worse, is a great film.

Le Quai des brumes is about a man played by the great Jean Gabin (the star of La Grande Illusion) who has deserted the army (a fact that is never mentioned specifically, since the French censors refused to let the filmmakers portray such an immoral deed). Everyone who he finds around him is morally corrupt. He finally befriends a dog, the most loyal of all animals, and then Nelly, a young woman who is being torn apart by her gangster suitor, Lucien, and her foster-father Zabel (played by L'Atalante's own Michel Simon).

The whole film falls into unavoidable and quite grueling violence. It is so depressing that the French director Jean Renoir (of La Grande Illusion and Rules of the Game) accused it of being Fascist. Those who know the film know this quotation, and have pondered it for the longest time. It does make perfect sense however. Hope leaves quickly after it is seen, and it is hard to get rid of. It fascistically knocks you down. 10/10


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