Rural well-digger Pascal has a pretty 18-year-old daughter Patricia who grew up in Paris; he dreams of her marrying his middle-aged partner Felipe. But she meets young Jacques Mazel from the village; one thing leads to another, and when both Jacques and Felipe go off to war, she's carrying Jacques's child. Faced with estrangement from her father, denial by Jacques' family, and the news that Jacques himself is missing in action, will Patricia agree to marry Felipe?Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The film famously contains a scene where characters listen to Maréchal Philippe Pétain's 17 June 1940 speech on the radio, announcing the need for an armistice with Adolf Hitler's Germany. Following the liberation of France in 1944, this was replaced with a speech by the Leader of Free France, General Charles de Gaulle, which made no sense in the context of the film. The Pétain speech was reinstated in recent years. See more »
The story goes and one sincerely hopes it is not apocryphal, that having made the pilgrimage to France to meet Raimu, fellow genius Orson Welles began to cry when told by Marcel Pagnol that he was too late as Raimu had died.
Raimu was greatly respected by many of the finest actors as well as being adored by the public, the national mourning at his death being equalled only by that of Edith Piaf and Yves Montand.
Outside his native country his fame and reputation rests on his portrayal of Cesar in the marvellous Marseilles trilogy, the last of which was directed by Pagnol and as Aimable in Pagnol's sublimest of films 'The Baker's Wife'.
There was undoubtedly a 'simpatico' between Raimu and Pagnol which enabled him to reach the heights as an actor and although 'The Well-Digger's Daughter' may not be in quite the same league as their other collaborations, his performance as Pascal is stupendous and again allows him to utilise his early comedic experience as well as display the most extraordinary pathos.
The same comments might apply to co-star Fernandel. Although most recognisable internationally as the priest in the Don Camillo series, the five films he made with Pagnol, of which this is the fourth, gifted him his greatest roles and represent his best work by far.
As the unmarried mother, a familiar character in Pagnol's films(!) we have the lovely Josette Day. Her relationship with Pagnol was by all accounts more than just professional and although very touching she does not quite convince as a naive eighteen-year old. She went on to excel of course in 'Beauty and the Beast'.
Pagnol regular Ferdinand Charpin is as always good value and Willy Factorovitch is again behind the camera.
Pagnol makes no concessions to the viewer as the piece comes in at just under two and a half hours and definitely comes into the catagory of 'filmed theatre' with no intermission!
Seventy-years on came the remake directed by and starring the admirable Daniel Auteuil. This obviously has greater production values and Auteuil is splendid as Pascal but the devastating simplicity and humanity of the original cannot be matched.
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