"Les mystères de Paris" was one of the most famous melodramatic popular novels in the 19th century:completely implausible,it nevertheless displays a lot of qualities:its depiction of the lowest depths of the society was sometimes impressive;a sinister-looking gallery of characters unforgettable:Monsieur Pipelet,La Chouette,Le Maître d'école,Le Chourineur...In its own way,it paved a reliable way for Hugo's "les misérables".
Keeping from Eugène Sue nothing but the proper nouns-and adding two lead characters(Raymond Pellegrin's baron and Dany Robin's Irene that do not even belong to the novel)-André Hunebelle 's treatment is not faithful to the original story and offers a muddled screenplay ,even more far-fetched than Sue's mammoth work (more than 1,000 pages).
In France,it was the end of the swashbuckler era,and Jean Marais was about to ditch the genre for the broader horizons of the spy thriller .But here,he's still the hero,fighting for a maiden orphan -played by Jill Haworth,whom Hunebelle found in the "Exodus" cast-.One must indicate that Marais does the stunts himself,as in all his other movies,and here he delivers the goods!
Word to the wise:try,if you can, to see Jacques de Baroncelli's version (1943)which 's got a stellar cast.It's very hard to find,but entertaining.
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