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Le Beau Serge (1958)

Le beau Serge (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | January 1959 (USA)
After long absence, a man returns to his hometown only to find his best friend has become an alcoholic.

Director:

Claude Chabrol

Writer:

Claude Chabrol
Reviews
2 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Gérard Blain ... Serge
Jean-Claude Brialy ... François Baillou
Michèle Méritz ... Yvonne
Bernadette Lafont ... Marie
Claude Cerval Claude Cerval ... The priest
Jeanne Pérez Jeanne Pérez ... Madame Chaunier
Edmond Beauchamp Edmond Beauchamp ... Glomaud
André Dino André Dino ... Michel, the doctor
Michel Creuze Michel Creuze ... The baker
Claude Chabrol ... La Truffe
Philippe de Broca ... Jacques Rivette de la Chasuble
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Storyline

Francois comes back to his home village in France after more than a decade. He notices that the village hasn't changed much, but the people have, especially his old friend Serge who has become a drunkard. Francois now tries to find out what happened to him and tries to help him. Written by Stephan Eichenberg <eichenbe@fak-cbg.tu-muenchen.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

January 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Le Beau Serge See more »

Filming Locations:

Sardent, Creuse, France

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Box Office

Budget:

FRF 37,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Claude Chabrol had originally intended to shoot Les Cousins (1959) first, but due to its Paris setting, it would have been twice as expensive to film. He chose instead to shoot Le Beau Serge (1958) which took place in Sardent, a village where his mother lived before moving to Paris and where he often spent the summer with his grandmother. The film was shot over nine weeks in the winter of 1957-1958 on a budget of 32 million old francs. See more »

Quotes

The priest: Who do you think you are? Jesus Christ? What can you do?
François Baillou: I don't know. That's why I'm waiting.
See more »

Connections

References Citizen Kane (1941) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Sensitive and socially insightful
30 January 2016 | by tomgillespie2002See all my reviews

Questionably considered the first entry in the Nouvelle Vague, or French New Wave, movement, Claude Chabrol's debut feature serves more as a precursor to the highly influential approach to film- making. While Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard broke new ground and had surprising international success with The 400 Blows (1959) and A Bout de Soufflé (1960) respectively, Le Beau Serge still retains a classical feel. Still, Chabrol's self-financing, on- location shooting, unorthodox editing and the use of non- professional actors proved to be highly influential to the Cahiers du Cinema crew and the first of its kind.

After more than a decade away from his home town, city boy Francois (Jean-Claude Brialy) returns to Sardent for the winter to rest and recover from a recent bout of life-threatening illness. Upon arrival, he notices that the place has barely changed but is oddly deserted, with only a handful of his old friends and acquaintances remaining. One who has remained is Serge (Gerard Blain), Francois' former best friend. The man once dubbed 'handsome Serge' has now been reduced to a bitter alcoholic, trapped in an unhappy marriage with Yvonne (Michele Meritz) who he blames for the loss of his child. Finding himself now at odds with small-town life, Francois still feels compelled to help his old friend.

Despite the odd flash of New Wave characteristics, Le Beau Serge shares more in common with the Neo-Realist movement in post-World War II Italy and the 'angry young man' films that would pepper Hollywood throughout the 50's. Chabrol, who grew up in Sardent, captures the crumbling town with both nostalgia and sadness. While obviously fond and whimsical of such a life, Francois' character feels oddly isolated in the town he once called home, unable to understand how accepting its inhabitants are of their inconsequential existence. The narrative drags in places, but this is both a funny and powerful film, especially if you hail from similar small-town beginnings. Chabrol would build his career on thrillers, but his debut shares a sensitive and socially insightful side rarely seen from the director.


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