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The Fire Within (1963)

Le feu follet (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 7 October 1966 (USA)
Alain Leroy is having a course of treatment in a private hospital because of his problem with alcohol. Although he is constantly distressed, he leaves the hospital and tries to meet good ... See full summary »



(based on the novel by) (as Drieu La Rochelle)

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2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Yvonne Clech ...
Mademoiselle Farnoux
Jean-Paul Moulinot ...
Mona Dol ...
Madame La Barbinais
Pierre Moncorbier ...
René Dupuy ...
Charlie (as René Dupuis)
Bernard Tiphaine ...
Ursula Kubler ...
Alain Mottet ...
François Gragnon ...
François Minville
Romain Bouteille ...


Alain Leroy is having a course of treatment in a private hospital because of his problem with alcohol. Although he is constantly distressed, he leaves the hospital and tries to meet good old days' friends. None of them will be helpful, increasing Alain's distress. Written by Yepok

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Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

7 October 1966 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Fire Within  »

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Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


The Minville twins, well-off OAS sympathisers, were added to the script by Malle as a criticism of right wing nouvelle vague directors and their support for the French occupation of Algeria. See more »


As Alain walks on the streets of Paris, the crew (pushing the dolly) is visible on the shop windows he passes by. See more »


Alain Leroy: So I'll try with death. She should be more accommodating.
See more »


Featured in Malle's Fire Within (2008) See more »


Gymnopédie No.1
Written by Erik Satie
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User Reviews

"Minimalistic, literary, poetic and masterful..."
12 November 2012 | by See all my reviews

French screenwriter, producer and director Louis Malle's fifth feature film which he wrote, is an adaptation of a short novel from 1931 by French author and fascist Pierre Drieu La Rochelle (1893-1945) which was inspired by the death of his friend, surrealist poet Jacques Rigout (1898-1929), who committed suicide at the age of 30. It was shot on locations in Versailles and Paris in France and is a France-Italy co-production which was produced by producer Alain Queffelean. It tells the story about Alain Leroy, a contemplative and anxious man in his thirties who is released from a health clinic in Versailles after being sober for four years. In the Paris suburb he meets his mistress Lydia who encourages him to visit her in New York, but he disregards her.

Distinctly and subtly directed by French filmmaker Louis Malle (1932-1995), this finely paced fictional tale which is narrated mostly from the main character's point of view, draws a compassionate and unsentimental portrayal of an autonomous man who relates to life from an introspective standpoint. While notable for its atmospheric and naturalistic milieu depictions, fine production design by French production designer Bernard Even (1929-2006), black-and-white cinematography by Belgian-born French cinematographer Ghislain Cloquet (1924-1981) and use of sound, this character-driven elegy depicts a refined study of character that goes into the core of its protagonist to visualize his disintegrated soul and contains a timely and efficient score by French composer and pianist Erik Satie (1866-1925).

This existentialistic and stylistic character-piece about a formerly vital socialite who capitulates from life, concludes with death as a last resort and wanders between his introvert and extrovert sides with a behavior that makes him very two-dimensional, is impelled and reinforced by its stringent narrative structure, esoteric narrator, subtle character development and continuity and the graciously calm acting performance by French actor, screenwriter and director Maurice Ronet (1927-1983) who adds as much substance to the story as the dialog with his expressive facial expressions. A minimalistic, literary, poetic and masterful psychological drama from the New Wave era in the early 1960s which gained, among other awards, the Special jury Prize at the 24th Venice Film Festival in 1963.

This humane and philosophical examination of a theme which was written by a man who as the man who inspired his story chose to execute what is by some regarded as a human right, an act of free will, a rational solution or as an immoral, irrational, criminal and cowardly act, does not condemn, condone or romanticise. All though depicting a story of a regressive character who marred by his own disillusionment surrenders and sets out for the ultimate point of no return, this modestly conveyed narrative feature has an aura of a love and appreciation for life that pierces through the inevitable sadness of watching a young writer revisit the people and places he once cared for only to be confronted with the ghost of himself which is the only part of him that still exists there.

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