14 Comments

  1. “Savage irony, withering subversion, and desolation mark the rain-sodden angst of a young man’s end.”

    Your descriptive writing has really gone through the stratosphere as of late, and I can especially appeciate this piece because I absolutely LOVE this film! It was sent to me a few years ago by Allan, and it’s one I immediately hailed as a masterpiece of poetic realism, and a film of brooding atmosphere and a fatalistic melancholy. As always (as of late) you are saying so much in economical stanzas (as opposed to paragraphs!) to convey a film’s essence, bringing character and mise en scene, while discussing it’s thematic context.

    I found a Dickinsinian flavor in this film, and was amazed that the vital element of the plot was conveyed without monologues, asides or flashbacks. Monsieur Gertard phillipe gives a superlative performance here too, in Allegreat’s very best film, which follows in the glorious tradition of Vigo and Carne.

  2. Allan Fish

    Safe to say my sending you the film is more than vindicated by your love for it, but I already knew that was a given. Your love of the film as guaranteed as a “condemned by Cardinal Spellman” for Brigitte Bardot films in the 50s and 60s.

  3. To say the images pop out and grab your attention, but the review, so well written, one can’t help to want to view this film.

    Thanks and Cheers!

  4. Thanks for introducing to this novice the team of Jacques Sigurd and Yves Allegret! This film is a marvel, and I’m at a loss to comprehend how it has such a low profile.
    Your account is masterful. The film does remarkably offer a whole world of difference, and yet affinities, vis-a-vis the studio priming of American noirs. Antonioni, for one, must have seen it and been thrilled by its relentless physical expanses.
    The vignettes portraying leaden hopelessness and fragile integrity are in perfect pitch, in grand counterpoint to the virtuoso cinematography.

  5. Tony,
    An addendum to Jim–we love the vintage poster you found for this film! A marvelous review that I enjoyed–I leave the commentary to Jim.
    Best ,
    Valerie

  6. Barry Miller

    How much did the work of Camus and Sartre influence this film in post-war France? And have you ever seen Philippe in 1954’s “The Red and The Black”? Brando had gone to Paris in 1951, and almost starred in it.

  7. Hi Barry.

    Director Allegre and scenarist Sigurd we’re both in the tradition of poetic realism, which in my view arose from the same historical and intellectual currents that nurtured both Camu and Sartre, rather than Existentialism having informed Allegre or Jigurd directly.

    No I haven’t seen The Red and the Black from 1954. I have it but have not yet been inclined to dig it out. The Brando connection is intriguing and may push me to take a look :)

    Best

    Tony

  8. Barry Miller

    Tony, thank you for your kind response….I thought you might this find this interesting: After Marlon Brando had finished his stage commitment to “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Claude Autant-Lara wanted the young actor, who had not yet made a movie, for “The Red and the Black.” He paid for Brando’s transportation to Paris to meet with him. Although Brando loved the French capitol, plans for the movie were delayed, and the film was not made until 1954 with Gérard Philipe.

    Apparently, Brando was going to speak French phonetically in the film, but walked off the production due to the director’s right-wing political leanings.

    It would of been his film debut, instead of 1950’s “The Men”, which is amazing considering the nature of both Stendhal’s
    novel and the almost prophetic aspects it contained in regards to Brando’s deeply troubled and ultimately Julien Sorel-like trajectory through the highest echelons of American celebrity.

  9. Thanks Barry for this background, which is really interesting. The connections with the protagonist Sorel are indeed uncanny. Reminds of the tragic irony of Brando’s last role in The Score (2001).

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