Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Retour de manivelle

1957, France, directed by Denys de La Patellière

One of those noirs where you find yourself wanting to advise the protagonists that their scheme may not go entirely to plan, though this in no way detracts from the pleasures of this bitter, often quite claustrophobic picture, scripted by Michel Audiard. Daniel Gélin is the patsy, who makes the rather critical mistake of trusting an icy Michèle Morgan; Bernard Blier has a relatively small, but enjoyably cynical, role as the policeman assigned to investigate the whole mess.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

En cas de malheur

1958, France, directed by Claude Autant-Lara

Based on a novel by Simenon and scripted by the legendary Jean Aurenche and Pierre Bost, though it's hardly a career highlight either in behind or in front of the camera (Jean Gabin and Brigitte Bardot, both of whom are barely stretched by their roles, are the focus on the latter side). The film comes across as something like a 1950s French version of The Woman in the Window or The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry, without the restrictions of the American Production Code, though the sourness of the end does suggest a more interesting film could have been crafted by a director less self-consciously provocative than Autant-Lara.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

L'Armoire volante

1948, France, directed by Carlo Rim

After enjoying La Maison Bonnadieu, I went in search of more by Carlo Rim. This feels very much like a Gallic Ealing picture, or at least Ealing on its more macabre days (there are, though, some very non-Ealing touches, such as the setting in a hotel which does a roaring trade in the short-staying customer). Fernandel, in unusually toned-down mode, features as a civil servant who is due an inheritance on the death of his aunt but needs her body in order to make his claim, and said corpse is notable mainly for its absence. There's a quite brilliant sequence in which the legal eagles outline the difference between a mere death -- of little consequence -- and a good, clean, legally-approved death with all its attendant paperwork.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Le Septième juré

1962, France, directed by Georges Lautner

Yet another Bernard Blier film. Like the previous picture, it pairs him with Danièle Delorme, though the film could hardly be more different. It's also a very out-of-type role for Blier, but one of his strongest performances, and the sense of existential disarray is profound -- it reminded me at times of Chabrol's Que la bête meure, perhaps for that sense of bourgeois claustrophobia that is such a strong feature of the later film. It's far stronger stuff, too, than the average Georges Lautner picture and hard not to speculate that the presence of Blier fils as an assistant director had a positive impact on the picture, which is of considerable interest on the visual level, too. 

Monday, October 02, 2017

Sans laisser d'adresse

1951, France, directed by Jean-Paul Le Chanois

Another entry in the Bernard Blier filmography, the actor playing a cabbie who ends up getting more than he bargained for when he picks up a young woman at the Gare de Lyon. Directed by Jean-Paul Le Chanois, very much a middlebrow fellow, though the use of extensive location shooting here lends a surprising pre-nouvelle vague sensibility to Paris's streets (Pierre Granier-Deferre was one of the assistant directors, though I didn't detect too many signs of his more astringent presence). There's a quite wonderful verbal joust between Blier and Danièle Delorme, with Julien Carette, no slouch with a good line himself, watching on with a wry smile, and there's also a brief, early appearance from Louis de Funès, testing out his grimaces and his hand gestures (the latter are always much more amusing to me than the former). 


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Most of the images here are either studio publicity stills or screen captures I've made myself; if I've taken your image without giving you credit, please let me know.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States