Tag Archives: Madeleine Renaud

Jean Benoît-Lévy & Marie Epstein – La Maternelle AKA Children of Montmartre (1933)

Below is an apt “user comment” from the film’s IMDB page. For my money, LA MATERNELLE is an even greater film than ZERO FOR CONDUCT, which is saying a lot.

“Until I saw this film at a Cinema Conference in Aberdeen in 1995 I was ignorant of the fact that a woman director had produced poetic and social cinema comparable with Vigo’s ZERO DE CONDUITE (certainly one of the greatest films ever). Vigo in 1933 is revolutionary anarchist with modernist poetry at his finger tips; Epstein in 1933 is warm-hearted popular front realism with magnificent performances by nursery school kids, though the main schoolgirl is a little older (and in love with her teacher, like the protagonist in Leontine Sagan’s MAIDENS IN UNIFORM 1931). Read More »

Harry Lachman – La belle marinière (1932)

A film thought to be lost until 5 reels (out of 9) were found in the UCLA archives. It was derived from an eponymous play by Marcel Achard which allowed to reconstruct he synopsis. Jean Gabin is the captain of the Cormorant, a horse-drawn barge, living happily along the canals with his sister Mique and Sylvestre (Pierre Blanchar), his fellow mariner and friend. The film starts with Gabin rescuing a young lady named Marinette (Madeleine Renaud) who had fallen in the canal for unsaid reason. Gabin soon also falls (for her), they get married and the boat is renamed ‘la Belle Marinière’ (the handsome she-mariner). During the wedding party returns Sylvestre (a handsome he-mariner) who had been away for the necessities of the script. He will now be the object of a growing interest from Marinette which results in the expected confict between the two men. Read More »

Julien Duvivier – Maria Chapdelaine (1934)

MG REVIEW
“Maria Chapdelaine” beautifully supports and sustains French filmmaker Julien Duvivier’s gift for “poetic realism.” At base, this is a simple 19th century romantic triangle. Canadian lass Madeleine Renaud is adored with equal fervor by aristocratic Jean-Pierre Aumont and by crude lumberjack Jean Gabin. Her indecision paves the way for tragedy. Yes, Maria Chapdelaine is a bit old-fashioned in technique and story material, but that fact never stopped Duvivier from turning out a film of genuine merit. Though the 1984 remake, directed by Gilles Carle, is superior to Duvivier’s, the earlier film shouldn’t be ignored” Read More »

Jean Grémillon – Le ciel est à vous AKA The Sky is Yours (1944)

Considering that it was made during a bleak and distressing period for France, Le Ciel est à vous is an astonishingly uplifting film with a message of unfettered hope for the future. It is not difficult to read director Jean Grémillon’s allegorical call to arms behind the rather anodyne tale about a Lindbergh-esque exploit, based on the real-life story of Andrée Dupeyron, the wife of a garage owner in Mont-de-Marsan. Released in February 1944, a few months before the Liberation, the film was enormously popular in France, galvanising the efforts of the Resistance and their covert supporters with its inspiring subtext. Although Jean Grémillon would go on to make three more notable films, Le Ciel est à vous was his last commercial success, the highpoint of his career before a rapid decline into obscurity. Read More »

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

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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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