Sog.: dal romanzo Hell in Frauensee di Vicki Baum. Scen.: Jean-George Auriol, Marc Allégret. F.: Jules Krüger, René Ribault. M.: Denise Batcheff. Scgf.: Lazare Meerson. Mus.: Georges Auric. Int.: Jean-Pierre Aumont (Eric Heller), Rosine Deréan (Danièle/Danny Lyssenhop), Simone Simon (Puck), Illa Meery (Anika), Vladimir Sokoloff (barone di Dobbersberg), Odette Joyeux (Carla), Michel Simon (Oscar Lyssenhop), Ila Meery (Anika). Prod.: Philippe de Rothschild per Société Parisienne de Production. 35mm. D.: 95’. Bn
On the other shore, I sing… I wait, the waves rock my dream, my boat… What will they bring me, night and morning? Out there are kindled fires and feasts… Here, in the dark, breaking the green waves, my oar streams with droplets of moon. On the other shore, the fires and feasts and the blonde girl have taken him. The lake, the mirror of our faces with mouths joined, reflects me alone, mouth that sings, eyes that stream with tears? No, no, with droplets of moon…
Puck’s song in Lac aux dames (words by Colette), in Colette at the Movies: Criticism and Screenplay, edited by Alain and Odette Virmaux, Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., New York 1980
At first Colette gave her the air of a Pekinese dog, then Jean Renoir transformed her into a cat, and finally Jacques Tourneur found the panther in her. To those who marveled at her therianthropy, the actress, invited to San Sebastián in 1988, loved to reply: “There are two types of women, those who end up as cows, and those who end up as goats. I would rather be one of the goats”. In Lac aux dames, Simone Simon is Puck, a shrewd and wild, fairy-tale and firmly modern spirit as in Shakespeare. To complete this portrait picture, Jean-Pierre Aumont said that, “Simone seems to have come into the world to play the part of Colette’s pure and wicked ingénues. She knew how to convey sincerity to the camera and at the same time a mischievousness which swept away all the theatrical conventions of actresses at the time”. Puck was the creature destined to bring Simone Simon to the attention of Fox, and to the attention of Marcel Duchamp, who was inspired by her for his Rrose Sélavy. One of Puck’s first lines goes like this: “I’m not a good girl”. Overt frankness shaped by Colette from top to bottom, this mysterious exoticism, this bohemian poetry make Simone Simon the true star of the film.
Colette was chosen by Philippe de Rothschild (Théâtre Pigalle, 1929-1932), who was intent on producing a light film, for the most part en plein air, based on a bestseller. The novel by Vicki Baum (whose literary structure deserves attention: one shouldn’t forget that it was Dorothy Arzner who adapted Baum, a strong and eccentric character), re-worked by Colette, Marc Allégret and André Gide, made a stratospheric film, a transgender sensation. The main male (or presumed to be) character, Jean-Pierre Aumont, twenty-three years old, a young brilliant leading man with completely golden naked chest (it is said that Johnny Weissmuller was even considered for the role), is a doll to be enjoyed, admired, desired, dressed, looked after, saved, married, in essence unable to exist without the women around him. “Of course he loves me, but he doesn’t know how to tell me, he’s a swimming instructor, you understand?”. Lac aux dames, or the Fred Peloux in Chéri turned upside down by the Vinca in Green Wheat.