T.it.: La via del rimorso. T. int .: Such a Pretty Little Beach e Riptide. Scen., Dial.: Jacques Sigurd. F.: Henri Alekan. M.: Léonide Azar. Scgf.: Maurice Colasson. Mus.: Maurice Thiriet. Su.: Pierre Calvet, Jacques Carrère. Int.: Madeleine Robinson (Marthe), Gérard Philipe (Pierre), Jean Servais (Fred), André Valmy (Georges), Jane Marken (signora Mahieu), Paul Villé (signor Curlier). Prod.: Émile Darbon, Compagnie Industrielle et Commerciale Cinématographique (CICC). Pri. pro.: 19 gennaio 1949 DCP. D.: 90’. Bn.
“When Gérard Philipe appears at the beginning of the film, something has happened to him that we do not know about, we only see the hero’s behaviour in front of the people who surround him without the aid of a flashback. The facts are therefore only hinted at; the camera tells the story without taking sides. It is a bit like it has been invited to observe how a group of people behave in a small hotel at a northern beach. It is like when we are on a train or in a restaurant and we try to find out something about the people sitting nearby, what might have happened in their lives to cause them to be so sad, stupid or happy” (Yves Allégret).
Une si jolie petite plage is an atmospheric film, where the gloomy and oppressing landscape dominates, battered by an obsessive uninterrupted rainfall which, thanks also to Henri Alekan’s photography with a shadowy and humid feel, provides a dimension of pure desperation. The climate is reflected in the tragic face of Gérard Philipe (Pierre), who on a winter’s evening arrives in a dreary rented room in a small resort town in the north of France (the filming took place partly in Barneville, Cotentin) looking for a rest. In reality Pierre spent his youth in those places like an orphan who was looked after by social services and his comeback is actually an escape because he has killed the rich female singer who supported him and he is tortured by guilt and his own ruin. The former assistant to Jean Renoir, Paul Fejos and Augusto Genina, as well as his brother Marc, Allégret revived, without affectation, themes, forms and aesthetics of poetic realism or tragic populism in the post-war period, with a trilogy that is considered the best of his work and that includes Une si jolie petite plage, Dédée d’Anvers (1947) and Manèges (1949). The elements that characterise that great phase of French cinema – the sense of tormented disillusion and destiny marked by a guilty past became the existential malaise and the post-military darkness of a generation which had not escaped from the horrors of war unscathed. With the contribution of the scriptwriter Jacques Sigurd, Allégret surrounds the main character with people, at times abject, at times generous, accentuating the story’s dark suggestive nature, making the mur– dered woman omnipresent; she remains faceless, but we can hear her voice singing.