René Clément

René Clément – Le père tranquille AKA Mr. Orchid (1946)

Droll French comedian Noel-Noel essays the title role in Le Pere Tranquille (The Quiet Daddy). Contrary to expectations, the star isn’t a secret father, but in fact the unknown head of a WW2 resistance movement. By playing the fool whenever the Nazis are around and about, Noel-Noel is able to conceal his double life and successfully carry out his various sabotage missions. This deft combination of comedy and melodrama builds to a particularly suspenseful climax. Le Pere Tranquille was directed by Rene Clement, who also helmed the classic “underground” film Battle of the Rails. (All Movie Guide) Read More »

René Clément – Gervaise (1956)

Gervaise Macquart, a young lame laundress, is left by her lover Auguste Lantier with two boys… She manages to make it, and a few years later she marries Coupeau, a roofer. After working very hard a few more years, she succeeds in buying her own laundry (her dream)… But Coupeau starts to drink after having fallen from a roof, and Lantier shows up… A faithful adaptation of Emile Zola’s novel “L’Assomoir”, depicting the fatal degeneration of a family of workers, mainly because of alcohol. Read More »

René Clément – Le mura di Malapaga AKA The Walls of Malapaga AKA Beyond the Gates (1949)

After murdering his mistress and being hunted by the authorities in France, Pierre (Jean Gabin) stows away aboard a ship bound for Genoa, Italy. Though he’s immediately robbed after arriving, things look up for Pierre when he meets Cecchina (Vera Talchi), a kind-hearted young girl who introduces him to her mother, Marta (Isa Miranda). Pierre and Marta fall in love, but the French police are closing in on him and the new couple may not have much time left. Read More »

René Clément – Le passager de la pluie AKA Rider on the Rain [+Extras] (1970)

Synopsis (possible spoilers):
‘A beautiful young woman in the South of France is stalked by, then raped by, a mysterious masked assailant. She shoots him dead soon afterwards and dumps his corpse in the sea. Later, an American investigator turns up, and to her horror he seems to know everything about what she has done.’
– Jonathon Dabell (IMDb) Read More »

René Clément – La bataille du rail AKA The Battle of the Rails (1946)

La Bataille du Rail (Battle of the Rails) is regarded by many cineastes as the one truly great French “resistance” film. Based on fact, the episodic plotline details the courageous efforts by French railray workers to sabotage Nazi reinforcement-troop trains. The film’s thesis is that this underground activity was largely responsible for the allied victory on D-Day. Writer-director Rene Clement enhanced the reality of the story by filming on actual locations and using genuine railway employees and resistance fighters in the cast. Admittedly slow going at times, La Bataille du Rail is more successful as a morale-booster than as pure entertainment. Read More »

René Clément – Soigne ton gauche AKA Watch Your Left (1936)

A boxer is out in the country with his entourage, training for his next fight. Meanwhile, on the farm nearby, Roger is neglecting his chores. As he watches the boxer and his sparring partners at work, Roger starts to fantasize about being a boxer himself. Then, when none of the boxer’s sparring partners can continue, he is asked to fill in, although he doesn’t know anything about how to box. Read More »

René Clément – La baby-sitter aka Jeune fille libre le soir (1975)


Whatever one says about the plot of this film is going to be a spoiler. Let’s just say that a girl takes a baby-sitting job for one night and in the morning finds that things are not what they seemed and she is in a big load of trouble.

The film has been trashed by just about everybody who ever bothered to write about it, and that’s unfair. At least among Clément’s thrillers – Les felins, Le passager de la pluie, La course du lièvre à travers les champs, etc – it can stand its ground, sharing their dreamlike ambiguity and opaque plot structure. It may not be a masterpiece, but it’s certainly a worthwhile couple of hours. Read More »