Richard Pottier – Le Monde tremblera aka The World Will Shake AKA The Revolt of the Living (1939)

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Synopsis:
In this sci-fi film, a scientist invents a prescient machine that can tell people when they will die. Oddly enough, the people do not want to know and therefore begin to riot…

Review:
With capital supplied by the unscrupulous banker Emil Lasser, Dr Jean Durand succeeds in creating a machine that can predict, to the nearest minute, when an individual will die. A ruthless man facing financial ruin, Lasser intends using Durand’s invention for a crooked life insurance business, but the scientist refuses to go along with the scheme, even though he is in love with Lasser’s daughter, Marie‐France. Subjecting himself to Durand’s machine, Lasser learns he has only a few days left to live. He ends up committing suicide, after leaving a note to his daughter warning her to stay away from Durand. As Marie‐France embarks on a new romance with Durand’s best friend Dr Gérard Gallois, Durand begins capitalising on his invention and soon has a steady stream of clients eager to know the exact date of their demise. The implications of Durand’s discovery soon hits home when people, knowing they have only a short time to live, begin behaving in an irresponsible manner. Durand realises too late that he has created a monster… Continue reading

Kamal Selim – El azima AKA The Will (1939)

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Plot:
A young couple, Muhammad and Fatima, fall in love and get married. However, their bliss is cut short when Muhammad loses his job and is forced to work as fabric salesman, without telling his wife. Some of the neighbors then scheme to get Fatima to see her husband working as a fabric salesman. Things turn around when his reason for dismissal from his old job disappears and he is rehired, and all seems well for the young couple. Continue reading

Jean Negulesco – Alice in Movieland (1940)

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Synopsis:
In a U.S. town that could be anywhere, 18-year-old Alice Purdee wins a free trip to Hollywood. With the assistance of a cheerful porter, she takes the night train and dreams about her arrival. Instead of instant success, she meets disappointment after disappointment, and she needs the unexpected encouragement of her grandmother and an aging, former star whom she meets at a talent night. Finally she gets a call to be an extra, and she’s so hopeful that the regulars decide to make a fool of her. Is this the end of Alice’s dream? Not if the porter has anything to say about it.
— IMDb. Continue reading

Jean Renoir – La chienne AKA The Bitch (1931)

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Maurice (Michel Simon) is a married cashier who meets Lulu (Janie Marèze), a streetwalker. Their chance meeting results in Maurice falling in love with Lulu. She, however, is in love with her boyfriend-pimp, Dédé (Georges Flamant). Together, Dédé and Lulu plot ways to get Maurice to give cash to Lulu, mostly at the urging of Dédé. Continue reading

Max Ophüls – Divine (1935)

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Synopsis:
Ludivine Jarisse is a young woman who lives a contented but unexciting life in the country. One day, she is visited by Roberte, an old friend who has made a career for herself as an actress at a Paris music hall, L’Empyrée. Roberte intends to take a break and invites her friend to take her place. Ludivine readily accepts, and soon becomes a musical hall diva under the name Divine, although she is at first reluctant to expose herself in the revealing costumes she is given. One of her colleagues attempts to take advantage of her naivety, but when she resists, he implicates her in a drugs trafficking affair. Divine remains untainted by all this vice and falls in love with an honest milkman, Antonin. He offers to marry her and she is finally able to leave the music hall to start a new life, back in the country. Continue reading

Anthony Asquith – French Without Tears (1940)

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IMDB review:
This amiable Ratigan Farce is based on Ratigans’ own experiences in a French tuition school in Normandy.It was brought to the stage in London featuring Rex Harrison,Trevor Howard,Kay Hammond and Roland Culver.It was purchased by Paramount initially as a vehicle for Marlene Dietrich!However they decided that the featured actors,Culver apart,were not sufficient box office and replaced them.Whilst Ray Milland is quite enjoyable as the main lead one can only conjecture what the film could have been if Harrison had reprised his role for the screen.I saw the original 86 minute version at the Museum of London in 1983.I have just seen the American version which is some 20 minutes shorter.I cannot remember what is missing.A number of matters of interest.Mantovanni is featured in the party scene.The release of this film coincided with the outbreak of war,when all places of entertainment were closed.The director was “Puffin”Asquith,the son of the World war 1 PM.His mother used her influence with cabinet Ministers to get the cinemas reopened,according to the biography of David Lean.Lean was the editor on this film.Cinemas reopened 3 days later and the film was a success at the box office. Continue reading