Charles Vanel

  • Jean-Pierre Melville – L’aîné des Ferchaux AKA Magnet of Doom (1963)

    Jean-Pierre Melville1961-1970CrimeFranceThriller
    L'aîné des Ferchaux (1963)
    L’aîné des Ferchaux (1963)

    One of the frequent themes in the films of Melville is loyalty between men, so it should come as no surprise to Melville fans that Michel and Ferchaux develop an usual, and even unhealthy bond–you could apply the term ‘co-dependency’ here, but while Melville’s film is ultimately positive when it comes to analyzing the relationship between the aging millionaire and Michel, the Simenon novel on which the film is based is far darker. If there’s any truth to the idea that a relationship can be judged by the way it alters the people involved with each other, then the relationship between Simenon’s characters Ferchaux and Michel Maudet is toxic.Read More »

  • Jacques de Baroncelli – Pêcheur d’Islande AKA Iceland Fishermen (1924)

    Jacques de Baroncelli1921-1930DramaFranceSilent
    Pêcheur d'Islande (1924)
    Pêcheur d’Islande (1924)

    Faithfully reproduced observations of Breton fisherfolk in story of the man a local woman really loves who will not at first give himself to her because of his fondness for the sea that takes him away.Read More »

  • Charles Vanel – Dans la nuit AKA Into the Night (1930)

    1921-1930Charles VanelDramaFranceSilent
    Dans la nuit (1930)
    Dans la nuit (1930)

    This is the only movie the great French actor Charles Vanel (‘The wages of Fear’ by H. G. Clouzot) wrote and directed (he also directed a short film ‘Affaire classee’ in 1931) during his long career (the longest career of any film actor from 1908 to 1988).

    A man (played by Vanel) who is working in a mine has recently married a beautiful young woman (Sandra Milovanoff, an actress who have worked with Sacha Guitry and Rene Clair among others). They strongly love each other but everyday they have to live separated because he has to go to work. One day, three children decide to make some tricks nearby the mine. Their ‘games’ have a very dramatic ending because part of the mine collapse and the man is injured and trapped under the rocks. After the rescue, the man survives but he is completely disfigured to the point that he has to wear a mask when he is in public and even in front of his wife. The happiness he and his wife were living in their everyday life starts to fade.Read More »

  • Raymond Bernard – Faubourg Montmartre (1931)

    Raymond Bernard1931-1940DramaFrance
    Faubourg Montmartre (1931)
    Faubourg Montmartre (1931)

    “Faubourg Montmartre” is an old-fashioned melodrama,handicapped by a desultory screenplay which blends prostitution on the boulevards,a murder -which will not be explained-,and even hullabaloo in Corse.

    This is the story of two sisters, one of them is a semi-whore with her pimp (played by Charles Vanel),the other one (Gaby Morlay) tries to walk the line,in spite of her sisters’ attempts to debauch her.Enter a not-so-handsome young man (A forgotten actor called Pierre Bertin whose performance is absolutely awful)the younger sister falls in love with.Read More »

  • Karl Grune – Waterloo (1929)

    Karl Grune1921-1930ClassicsGermanySilentWeimar Republic cinema
    Waterloo (1929)
    Waterloo (1929)

    Waterloo is a German made movie that depicts the soldiers of Belgium + The Netherlands; Brunswick; England, Ireland, Scotland + Wales; Hanover; Nassau; and Prussia’s victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.Read More »

  • Jean Grémillon – Daïnah la métisse (1932)

    1931-1940DramaFranceJean GrémillonMystery
    Daïnah la métisse (1932)
    Daïnah la métisse (1932)

    Shades of Othello loom in this engrossing exploration of class, race, and murder set on an ocean liner. Young Dainah encounters an engineer on board who mistakes pleasantries for flirtation. When she disappears the next day, suspicion spreads not only to the engineer but also to Dainah’s husband. Forward-thinking and absorbing.Read More »

  • Alberto Lattuada – La steppa (1962)

    Alberto Lattuada1961-1970ClassicsDramaItaly
    La steppa (1962)
    La steppa (1962)

    This is a lovely colorful adaptation of a novel by Anton Chekhov about the adventures of Jegoruska, an eight-year-old Russian boy, in a journey across the “steppe” or open plains of Russia on the en route from his home village to a market city where he is to go to school. It is in a way an allegorical trip which exposes him to some of the grimmest realities of life and some of its better ones. We get a social message as well, for example, the harsh conditions of the peasantry of 19th Century Russia. The director Alberto Lattuada often adapted Russian works or made films with Russian settings as in CUORE DI CANE, THE TEMPEST, and THE OVERCOAT. Most of the location scenes here were shot in Yugoslavia. The cast, which includes Charles Vanel as a priest and Marina Vlady as a countess, are uniformly good. Handsome young Daniele Spallone as the boy is marvelous.Read More »

  • Jean Dréville – La ferme du pendu (1945)

    1941-1950DramaFranceJean Dréville

    On a huge farm in the Vendee, the death of the patriarch leaves behind 3 brothers and a sister. The eldest brother refuses to consider dividing the property. In order to cement his hold on the family, he uses his authority to keep his siblings from marrying… La Ferme du pendu is a well-built, intense rural drama portraying the relentless determination of a man whose attachment to the land becomes a destructive obsession. It also serves as a near-documentary depiction of peasant life between the wars. Dréville keeps a certain distance from his characters and avoids all overblown drama. The cast is remarkable: Charles Vanel brings great intensity to the ensemble, but all the roles are perfectly portrayed. La Ferme du pendu was also the first credited film role for Bourvil, playing a small role as a shopkeeper which still allows him to sing his famous song, “Les Crayons” during the wedding scene.Read More »

  • Jean Dréville – Les affaires sont les affaires (1942)

    1941-1950DramaFranceJean Dréville

    Nouveau riche

    In spite of a very poor rating, this film is really a killer! By far Jean Dreville’s most important film as well as one of the best Charles Vanel’s performances. First intended for Raimu, it seems that Vanel was finally a better choice and anyway if you give this movie a chance, he’s gonna blow your mind. Lord! What an actor!Read More »

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