Monday, February 08, 2016

Archimède le clochard

1959, France, directed by Gilles Grangier

Gabin was a remarkably busy actor in the 1950s, turning out an average of three films a year, not all of the first rank. Truffaut had a point when characterizing Gabin's level of influence over films as being "dangerous," especially when he is paired with a director of no particular strength, as is the case for Gilles Grangier, who made a dozen films with the star. Gabin plays the titular tramp, a "character" who objects to being imprisoned on a short sentence since he'd much rather spend the cold months in lockup. There's nothing subtle about Gabin's characterization, which is "big" in every sense, with drunken hijinks, rapid-fire patter, and even a little soft-shoe. The film's main interest comes from the support, even if it isn't always used to best effect -- Julien Carette as a fellow tramp, and Bernard Blier as a bar owner, in particular. There's a dispiriting cheapness to proceedings most notably in the pretty inept integration of location and studio footage in a sequence purportedly on the fringes of a big Parisian parade. 

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States