Friday, January 08, 2016

L'Etrange Monsieur Victor

1938, France, directed by Jean Grémillon

A Grémillon film that apparently suffered due to its association with the German production company UFA -- the picture was made in Germany in 1937, although it tells an entirely French tale. Still, perhaps not the wisest move on the political front at the time. In any case, very much a rediscovered gem, with a quite wonderful sense of place despite being largely if not entirely a studio beast (von Sternberg would have loved the set design, I suspect). Raimu plays the affable, eponymous Toulon storekeeper who is not at all what he seems -- Grémillon does a fine job of detailing the carefully-maintained façade, which is punctuated in brutal fashion (and Raimu himself is terrific, switching back and forth between personas). The conclusion is quite neat in most respects, and you'd expect something altogether more cynical had the film been made a decade later. 

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States