Jean Grémillon – L’Étrange Monsieur Victor AKA Strange M. Victor (1938)

Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote this :

In his finest work, including this masterful 1938 noir, the remarkable French filmmaker Jean Gremillon (1901-1959), trained as a composer and musician, used mise en scene, script construction, editing, and dialogue delivery to explore the complex relationship between film and music.

Raimu, one of the greatest French actors, plays the “strange” title hero, a respectable Toulon merchant who secretly operates as a fence for local thieves; after he murders a potential blackmailer, an innocent local shoemaker (Pierre Blanchar) is sent to prison for his crime.

Seven years later the fall guy escapes, returns to Toulon to see his son, and, unaware of Victor’s guilt, persuades the merchant to shelter him, then becomes involved with his wife.
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Jean Grémillon – La Petite Lise (1930)

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Jean Grémillon’s first talkie, the 1930 LA PETITE LISE, is anything but talky. While opening
and closing with soulful afro-Latin strains, something just above silence reigns throughout
the film. Grémillon is already orchestrating the auditory menace of nuanced sound sculpting
that would later pervade REMORQUES (1941), setting forth evolving rhythmic figures at an
atmospheric whisper. Grémillon grafts this aural frieze onto smoldering b&w photography.
Truly, the frame is often smoking for purposes of motif.
In truth, this film has the most impressive use of sound I know of, including Bresson’s
MOUCHETTE. Continue reading