Arlecchino Cinema > 14:30


Anatole Litvak
Introduced by

Bertrand Tavernier


Sunday 23/06/2019


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

A young police inspector is convinced that a man suspected of a murder on a Paris waste-ground is innocent and launches an enquiry of his own. He plunges into an underworld of criminals, pimps and prostitutes where he has to confront a young thug and fall in love with a beautiful if depressed lady of the night.
Anatole Litvak was only 29 years old when he came to Paris to shoot Coeur de lilas, though he had already directed two feature films and worked both in Soviet cinema and at Babelsberg Studios during the heyday of German cinema in the 1920s.
Adapted from a play by Tristan Bernard and Charles-Henry Hirsch, this story appears to be part-fable, part-thriller, part-melodrama. Cameraman Curt Courant, who had worked with Curtis Bernhardt and Fritz Lang, designed the lighting for an especially sombre atmosphere.
André Luguet and Marcelle Romée starred, the former, a 39-year-old silent-cinema veteran who had worked with Louis Feuillade and Léonce Perret. Marcelle Romée, known as Marcelle Arbant, who plays the title-role, was a member of the Comédie française. She committed suicide shortly after the film’s release.
Gabin does not appear until 25 minutes into the film. Despite only playing a supporting role, he steals the show, skillfully switching from comic to tragic and making this parody of a detective story come alive before its dramatic twist with astonishing ease.
He sings too; La Môme caoutchouc, a song by Maurice Yvain and Serge Veber, that Fréhel, the great chanson-réaliste star of the day was to cover: “Rubber babe / Crazy what she makes you do /She takes you and oh, oh /You go so low / It’s not for show / She leaves you in two, oh / Rubber babe!”.

Edouard Waintrop

Cast and Credits

Sog.: dalla pièce omonima (1921) di Charles-Henry Hirsch e Tristan Bernard. Scen.: Dorothy Farnum, Anatole Litvak, Serge Véber. F.: Curt Courant. Scgf.: Serge Piménoff. Mus.: Maurice Yvain. Int.: Marcelle Romée (Cœur de lilas), Jean Gabin (Martousse), André Luguet (André Lucot), Madeleine Guitty (signora Charigoul), Carlotta Conti (signora Novion), Marcel Delaître (Jean Darny), Lydie Villars (‘La Crevette’), Fréhel (‘La Douleur’), Paulette Fordyce (signora Darny), Fernandel (il testimone di nozze). Prod.: Jean Hulswit per Fifra. 35mm D.: 90’. Bn.