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Pierre Martel is a brilliant lawyer in Paris who has fallen in love with a ravishing Italian girl, Sylvia Sorrego and they take up housekeeping on a luxurious scale beyond his means, and Pierre commits a few irregularities and is asked to resign the Bar Association. He heads for Algeria and tells Sylvia to sell everything they own and join him there. Sylvia is a no-show and Pierre, broke, with a dishonored name and having lost the woman he loves, dons the hair-shirt he wears the rest of the film and becomes a human wreck, and he joins the Foreign Legion. Pierre and his friends Mario and Fred engage in a bit of globe-hopping warfare for the next four years and are sent back to the camp in Algeria. There, they discover a house/castle near the camp called "The Last Stop" run by Madame Blanche, who spends most of her time reading playing cards. When she isn't reading cards, Madame Blanche runs a few prostitutes on the side and arranges for three ladies of the evening to spend a night in ...Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Not really epic material, this is a fated romantic drama (a typically French quality) set against the exotic background of the Foreign Legion and, actually, a remake of Jacques Feyder's 1934 film LE GRAND JEU (also this version's original title).
The plot involves a successful young lawyer (Jean-Claude Pascal) who, due to a shady deal, finds himself penniless and separated from his wife (Gina Lollobrigida). Stranded in Algeria, he's persuaded to join the Foreign Legion where he befriends a couple of similar losers (played by Raymond Pellegrin and Peter van Eyck). All three lodge in the tavern run by an ageing fortune-teller (Arletty) and occasionally go out in search of a good time with the local girls eventually meeting up with one who's a dead-ringer for Lollobrigida! Soon, the buddies fall out over her (and one of them even winds up dead, an event which Arletty had actually predicted!) though the girl, naturally, is drawn to the hero (even if her sweet-natured character differs from that of his materialistic wife). At the end, Pascal does run into the latter and discovers that they have nothing more in common which, therefore, gives him free rein to start life over with his new-found love.
This was one of the first international efforts Siodmak made following his spell in Hollywood (to which he returned sporadically thereafter). Consequently, while his best work may have been behind him, the director manages to lend a reasonable amount of style to the melodramatic (even unlikely) proceedings. That said, the wretched print I watched didn't do the film any favors being not only muddy and exceedingly scratched, but was besides distressingly plagued by any number of missing frames!
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