Cinema Arlecchino > 17:30


Claude Autant-Lara


Tuesday 25/08/2020


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Along with his sequence of ‘period’ films (Le Mariage de Chiffon, Lettres d’amour, Douce), this is Autant-Lara’s masterpiece. It seems that Autant-Lara needs some distance in time from his subject in order to express the best of his acerbic, caustic verve. This is because his art is above all an art of preparation, composition, reconstruction, painting and decorating, where the effect produced is most effective when it is the result of a meditated set of carefully fulfilled conditions and balanced talents. Here everything was in place for a great success: the admirable material of Marcel Aymé’s short story (taken from the collection Le Vin de Paris, 1947); a dense and new adaptation by Aurenche and Bost substituting the tragic ending (Martin killing Grandgil) with a disillusioned epilogue; a period atmosphere reconstituted with accuracy and served by an internal dynamism that gives the action genuine respect for the unity of action and time; original characters; perfect actors, whose audacious choices highlight the singularity and the truth of their characters. Bourvil, chosen with astonishing perspicacity on the part of Autant-Lara, finds here (after an interesting first experience in Alone in Paris, Bromberger, 1951, at the instigation of Pagnol, the producer) his first serious big role with this character of a cowardly smuggler, more pitiful than likeable. In the same way Gabin, in an ambiguous role, unexpected and full of depth, surprises his public once again, delighting them with his metamorphosis.

Jacques Lourcelles, Dictionnaire du cinema: les films, Laffont, Paris 1992

One of my best known films, because there’s an unbeatable trio: Bourvil, Gabin, De Funès, obviously that will win out! And the film was good. Except for the ending, which Deutschmeister, the producer, never wanted me to shoot. The real ending is that the poor devil is shot, while the rich, the famous painter, gets away with it. I even shot a few scenes of my own to show him… but he wouldn’t listen. In the end, we make the films we can, given the producers – I’m not saying they’re stupid, but there’s something that dulls their intellect, it’s the money: even intelligent producers, when they’re afraid that they won’t make returns, they become stupid.

Claude Autant-Lara in Claude Autant- Lara en 33 films: une exposition, Institut Lumière, Lyon 1983

Cast and Credits

Sog.: dal racconto omonimo (1947) di Marcel Aymé. Scen.: Jean Aurenche, Pierre Bost. F.: Jacque Natteau. M.: Madeleine Gug. Scgf.: Max Douy. Mus: René Cloërec. Int.: Jean Gabin (Grandgil), Bourvil (Marcel Martin), Louis de Funès (Jambier), Jeannette Batti (Mariette Martin), Georgette Anys (Lucienne Couronne), Robert Arnoux (Marchandot), Laurence Badie (la cameriera), Myno Burney (Angèle Marchandot). Prod.: Henry Deutschmeister per Franco London Film e Continental Produzione. DCP. Bn.