T. alt.: Les Amants de Montparnasse. Sog.: dal romanzo Les Montparnos di Michel Georges-Michel. F.: Christian Matras. M.: Marguerite Renoir. Scgf.: Jean d’Eaubonne. Mus.: Paul Misraki. Int.: Gérard Philipe (Amedeo Modigliani), Anouk Aimée (Jeanne Hébuterne), Lilli Palmer (Béatrice), Lea Padovani (Rosalie), Gérard Séty (Zborowski), Lino Ventura (Morel), Marianne Oswald (Berthe Weil), Lila Kedrova (Madame Zborowski). Prod.: Henry Deutschmeister per Franco- London Films, Astra Cinematografica. DCP. D.: 104’. Bn.
Max Ophuls had prepared the film and co-written, together with Henri Jeanson, the adaptation and dialogue. It was Ophuls himself who then suggested to the producers that the directorial duties be entrusted to Becker (Ophuls died on the 26th March 1957, five months before the shoot). Becker reworked the screenplay and rewrote the dialogue. Henri Jeanson had his name removed from the credits, which make no reference to a screenwriter. The film is dedicated to the memory of Max Ophuls.
Montparnasse 19 is a film of fear. In this sense, it might be subtitled ‘the mystery of the film-maker’. For in unwittingly investing Modigliani’s unbalanced mind with his own perturbation, Jacques Becker – clumsily, admittedly, but infinitely movingly – allows us to penetrate the secret of artistic creation […]. After all, if a modern novel is fear of the blank page, a modern painting fear of the empty canvas, and modern sculpture fear of the stone, a modern film has the right to be fear of the camera, fear of the actors, fear of the dialogue, fear of the montage. I would give the whole of post-war French cinema for that one shot, badly acted, badly composed, but sublime, in which Modigliani asks five francs for his drawings on the terrace of the Coupole.
Jean-Luc Godard, Saut dans le vide, “Cahiers du cinéma”, n. 83, May 1958; transl. in Godard on Godard, edited by Jean Narboni and Tom Milne, Da Capo Press, New York- London 1972