The fact that Marcel Carné DID NOT want to make this movie undescores the ill-starred nature of the project .
In his absorbing memoirs,the director tells the whole story of his obstacle course:
-the screenplay was deemed too risqué and the producer crossed out entire pages of script ; the bisexual side of the young Turk ,"it's dirty" ; the boy and his girlfriend swimming in the nude ,'it's dirty" and so on,and so on .The film had lost its raison d'être .
Discouraged ,Carné wanted to call it a day.He was not able to refuse :he had signed a contract :not only he had to make the movie,but he had also to accept all the "changes " .
The shooting was disastrous : the lead ,Christian Hay would spend all his nights in clubs and would hardly know his lines;his co-star ,Haydée Politoff,fresh from Rohmer's "La Collectionneuse" would feel nothing but contempt for this beginner;the producer also sent one of his collaborators ,a woman who swore by the cinema verité of the Nouvelle vague and hated that "old hat" cinema de papa.Did she know that Carné had directed movies which would go down in history?At the time it was considered polite to despise the man who made "Les Enfants Du Paradis".
The movie was impossible to see for years ,and became an accursed work ;recently restored,with beautiful colors , does it need some reassessment?
Honestly ,the movie seems horribly dated,full of clichés ,some kind of "Les Tricheurs " of the sixties,and ,sadly succumbing to all the vices of the new wavelet: cult of youth ,contempt for the grown-ups (the first lines should have ended up in Carné's wastepaper basket),desultory script,intrusive hip music; the psychedelic cast and credits crowns it all.
The main character inspired by Maupassant's "Bel -Ami" and ,in Carné's mind ,by Tennessee Williams' "Roman Spring of Mrs Stone ",is a go-getter who wants to use women (and there are also two hints at men ,despite the censorship)who covets him ;Christian Hay is bland ,he resembles Laurent Terzieff ,the star of "Les Tricheurs" ,but unlike him,he cannot act;Haydée Politoff (it was her sophomore effort) is not much better ,in her part of a modern (but romantic ) girl ,always wearing a sulky face .
Two professional actors try to salvage something from the wreckage:Maurice Garrel ,the wealthy man who can boost his young protégé's "career".And the actor-featured -in -every-movie-Carné -made-since-1949-but"Le Pays D'Où Je
Viens",Roland Lesaffre ,who plays the same role as in "Les Tricheurs" and "Terrain vague" :the adult who understands these youngsters and philosophically thinks that" youth must have its fling".
Most of the characters are caricatures ;best(worst ) example: the scene where the "hippie" (Yves Beneyton,probably the best of the three young leads) takes his friend to his luxury mansion in Neuilly ;of course he hates his bourgeois family and sings folk songs (the lovely "Les Jours Verts ").When he filmed that ludicrous scene of the tuxedo,we can wonder what Carné was thinking of....
You can save ,at a pinch, the nice pictures of Christmas in Paris;the swimming lovingly filmed too ,but do not expect to get an eyeful :most of the time,both lovers keep their bathing suit on;
There's much pop music written for the soundtrack , notably "Mary,Mary" which was a flop,and the haunting Nicole Croisille's "I'll never leave you" which rode high on French charts :it's the production's only claim to fame.
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