Charles Vanel

Scen.: Charles Vanel. F.: Georges Asselin. Scgf.: Armand Bonamy. Int.: Charles Vanel (il cavatore), Sandra Milowanoff (la moglie). Prod.: Les Films Fernand Weill. DCP. D.: 90’. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

After marrying his beloved (Sandra Milowanoff) and embarking on a life of conjugal bliss, a labourer is injured by an explosion in the quarry where he is working. Now disfigured, he is forced to wear a mask. Charles Vanel acted in about 100 films (including Edmond T Gréville’s extraordinary Woman of Evil and Henri-Georges Clouzot’s acclaimed The Wages of Fear, to name just two) and stepped behind the camera when he was at the peak of his fame as an actor in silent cinema. It was 1929. He directed just one feature-length film. However, Dans la nuit is a disturbing, surprising film in which he demonstrates an incredible sense of framing and editing and a wild demented modernity, while reprising his double act with Sandra Milowanoff, with whom he had already starred in La Flambée des rêves, Pêcheur d’Islande (both by Jacques de Baroncelli, 1924) and La Proie du vent (René Clair, 1927). “A drama in a working-class setting”: this is how he liked to define the story, which paid homage to his father. On the film’s release, it was praised by the critics: “Vanel immediately achieves the intensity of great drama. The images are imbued with crazy sincerity. A painful and convincing cruelty. Finally, something powerful. The director Vanel criticises life” (Michel Gorel, “La Revue du cinéma”, 1930). However, the silent era was over. When Dans la nuit arrived on cinema screens in May 1930, sound film had already prevailed and the film was withdrawn. Thus, it is perhaps France’s last silent film. Having fallen into obscurity, Dans la nuit is now returned to its original splendour, thanks to a sublime restoration initiated by the Institut Lumière, to whom Charles and Arlette Vanel bequeathed the film in 1998, and undertaken by Éclair Classics.

Copy From

Restored in 4K in 2022 by Institut Lumière with the support of CNC – Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Laurent Gerra and Michel Merkt, at Éclair Classics laboratory, from the original negative nitrate preserved at La Cinémathèque française