Also known in English as "Champagne for Savages". Set in World War Two occupied France. Several people gather at a house to celebrate a woman's birthday. Some German soldiers are killed ...
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Also known in English as "Champagne for Savages". Set in World War Two occupied France. Several people gather at a house to celebrate a woman's birthday. Some German soldiers are killed outside. The Gestapo inform the group that they must select two of their party to be executed for the crime. It then becomes a matter of everyone trying to save themselves.Written by
The matte painting at the beginning and the end of the film portrays the city of Semur-en-Auxois in Burgundy, France. See more »
Christian-Jaque was a good director,who gave some of the great films of the French cinema:"les disparus de Saint-Agil" (1938)"l'assassinat du père noel"(1942)"boule de suif" (1945) and "un revenant"(1946).From 1950 onwards ,he slowly but inexorably degenerated into mediocrity (with the exception of "Fanfan la Tulipe" and "madame du Barry" - which featured racy lines -and the cheerful 'Si Tous Les Gars Du Monde" and you could pronounce him dead well before the coming of the nouvelle vague.But "le Repas des fauves " (dinner for savages!)is a staggering exception,and I hope that some day it will be given the rating it deserves.
This is ,par excellence the anti-hero movie ,and Henri Jeanson,who wrote so many lines in the French cinema ,is at his nastiest,abetted by an incredibly good script.
During WW2,seven bourgeois people ,who celebrate the twenty-second birthday of one of them's young bubble head wife ,revel thanks to the black market ,while their compatriots in occupied France are starving.In the street,two German officers are killed.Kaubach,a German officer enters the dining-room and tells them they will take hostages to be shot.And,there's the rub:they will have to choose two of them .The seven cowards are stunned .They are not prepared to become heroes.
WW2 does not really matter.It could take place anywhere anytime.The movie deals with human cowardice , stupidity and selfishness .And Jeanson lets his inspiration flow with such lines as :"I'd rather have a dead body on my conscience than be a dead body on someone else's conscience" or "-an enemy is a friend who lies dormant" "but a friend may also be an enemy who lies dormant".The action takes place almost in real time and looks sometimes like filmed stage production.But the actors are first-class:Francis Blanche,who unfortunately made mediocre farces by the dozen ,finds here his lifetime part,a fat mean man who befriends the Germans ;Claude Rich,almost frightening as a philosophy teacher,pretending to be THE hero ,because he cannot live in the same world than him anymore;Claude Nicot,who tries to give his young wife to the German officer ("the intentions are good!"),and suddenly the movie becomes an update of Maupassant's "Boule de Suif" which Christian -Jaque brilliantly adapted some twenty years before;the blind man(Dominique Paturel)"who has got no reason to live ,the poor dear,so why not him?;the doctor who tries to convince his pals that he cannot die because his patients do need him ;and the stupid young wife ,whose IQ must rate under 60,played by France Anglade,another clone of Brigitte Bardot;and finally the onlt person who keeps a certain dignity,a woman whose husband is a prisoner in Germany and who tries to refuse the "game" as she urges his mates to "let the Germans choose their two victims.
The plot is marvelously constructed ,with a lot of black humor,and what we 've got to call suspense.
Yes it is Christian-Jaque's great swansong and had Billy Wilder seen it ,maybe he would have thought of a remake.
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