Scen.: Robert Enrico, Pascal Jardin, Claude Veillot. F.: Étienne Becker. M.: Eva Zora. Scgf.: Jean Saussac. Mus.: François de Roubaix. Int.: Philippe Noiret (Julien Dandieu), Romy Schneider (Clara Dandieu), Jean Bouise (François), Joachim Hansen (l’ufficiale delle SS), Robert Hoffmann (il tenente), Karl Michael Vogler (il dottor Müller), Madeleine Ozeray (la madre du Julien). Prod.: Pierre Caro per Les Artistes Associés, Mercure Productions, T.I.T. Filmproduktion GmbHb. DCP. Col.
Montauban, 1944. Julien Dandieu (Philippe Noiret), a surgeon, is being investigated by the militia, who suspect him of treating members of the Resistance. Worried about protecting his wife, Clara (Romy Schneider), and his daughter, Florence, from a previous marriage, he sends them to the countryside, to a family château near a small hamlet. But when he arrives, he finds a horrific spectacle: the Germans, beating a retreat, have savagely massacred all the inhabitants of the village, including his wife and daughter. An incredibly violent duel ensues between the members of the German division and the surgeon, driven only by his need for revenge. […] Thirty years after the end of the Second World War, Le Vieux fusil was one of the films that would enable France to finally face up to its own history. This is a manifesto film about the tragedy of the years of German occupation in France. Filmed in the Tarn-et-Garonne region, it was inspired in part by the massacre of Oradour-sur-Glane. The action takes place just after the Normandy landings in June 1944, and is built around flashbacks depicting the shattered love story. Robert Enrico offered Romy Schneider a magnificent portrait of a woman. The role of Clara was, as we know, one of those that allowed her to dig deep, scrutinise and analyse her German past. It was a role that served as catharsis. […] Originally, Enrico had considered Catherine Deneuve and Lino Ventura, who refused given the violent nature of the script. The scene of their first encounter shows an elegant Schneider wearing a veiled hat. Noiret and Schneider are alone together, in a classic face-to-face, punctuated by looks and evocative silences. Julien Dandieu falls under the spell of this woman, who seems to take life in her stride, while the war rumbles on. “Why are you looking at me that way?” she asks, smiling. “I love you,” he replies. It is one of the most beautiful scenes of love at first sight in Schneider’s career.
Isabelle Giordano, Romy Schneider: Film par film, Gallimard, Paris 2017