7.7/10
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Port of Shadows (1938)

Le quai des brumes (original title)
Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Romance | 29 October 1939 (USA)
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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)
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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

When Jean and Nelly have their picture taken, they are standing close together. After a brief cut to the photographer who instructs them not to move anymore, there is a clear gap between them. See more »

Quotes

Le peintre: Some people go fishing or hunting or go to war. Others commit crimes of passion. Some commit suicide. You have to kill someone.
Quart Vittel: That's life.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Entertaining but overrated noir predecessor
23 January 2005 | by wjficklingSee all my reviews

I know, I know, this isn't film noir, it's 'poetic realism.' Fine with me, but it's still an early example of noir to me. And while this film has many strong points, it's very easy to overrate it. For one thing, it's totally predictable. If you haven't figured out by the halfway point what's going to happen to the Gabin character, you just haven't been to very many movies. For another, the first half of the film is disjointed and just plain dull. However, after the halfway point it begins to pull itself together and ends up working rather well.

On to the strong points. Gabin is, well, Gabin. He is one of those rare screen presences who is watchable and enjoyable in anything. And Michele Morgan, who I don't recall seeing before, is beautiful, magnetic, and riveting. It's hard to believe that she was only 18 when she played in this film. And the tone of the film--downbeat, mildly depressing--is a healthy antidote to the relentlessly upbeat Hollywood productions of the time. And the downbeat tone is probably much more appropriate to 1938 as well.

Some reviewers have criticized the sets. Personally, I think they worked. This film worked very hard to create an atmosphere, and for this the sets were perfect.

The film was also daring for its time, although perhaps not for the French. The Morgan character is strongly hinted to be a woman of easy virtue and, at a time when Hollywood was plagued by the Hayes code that prohibited even a hint of sexuality, there is a very obvious 'morning after' scene in which it is obvious that the Gabin and Morgan characters checked into a hotel room and spent the night together. There is even a scene after the morning after scene in which it is obvious that they are about to go at it again; Gabin grabs Morgan, they embrace and start to fall on the bed, and the scene fades out. Moreover, in an era when such things weren't even hinted at, there is a subtle suggestion that Morgan's godfather/caretaker may have molested her, and there is a less than subtle suggestion that he lusts for her. In these senses the film was way ahead of its time.

Definitely worth seeing. 8/10


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