Teatro Auditorium Manzoni > 14:30


Jean Grémillon
Introduced by

Sophie Seydoux (Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé)


Thursday 27/08/2020


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Albert Valentin’s screenplay, astute in its premise and solidly built, contains several farfetched ideas that would have been embarrassing if Jean Grémillon had not treated the film with his sense of humanity that makes everything seem spontaneous. Undoubtedly the greatest directors know how to take on any work, as if the story’s inconsistencies were simply a part of the characters, as if a component of their fate. […] Grémillon depicts the ordinary characters of the film with great respect and attention. He does this to such a degree that in this crime adventure where everything points to Victor, a respectable merchant by day and a fence by night, by the end of the film it is not clear which side the good people are on and which the villains. Viviane Romance, who performs in one of her better roles, if not best, elegantly plays Adrienne who is confidently aware of her own charms but is also faithful to basic moral principles. Blanchar, whose suffering and emotional power are remarkable, perfectly balances his usual guise of feverish excitement with resignation that he shows instead of acts. Madeleine Renaud, as a woman of sacrifice who ends up leaving her husband who has become an embarrassment now that she has found love, dons this character with uncanny simplicity. […] As for Raimu, he had never been so tragic except perhaps in L’Homme au chapeau rond by Pierre Billon. And if, at times, his tics resurface, tics exploited by servile dialogue writers, they are to be explained by a character caught in a trap, oppressed by fear and remorse, feelings that were once foreign to him. In this film he is his most expressive. The camerawork is also worth mentioning along with how admirably the vitality of Toulon was recreated in the studios of Berlin. In fact, Grémillon, a Breton-Norman, pays superb tribute to the city in what is the most beautiful shot of the film: Robineau (Pierre Blanchar), who just escaped from jail, returns to the area around Mont Faron, and while he moves forward the camera accompanying him reveals the vast harbor. There are films that make you happy. There are others that, in addition, give you a sense of satisfaction for their complexity, intelligence (which is never ostentatious), and demands. Open films that make us feel pure emotions.

Paul Vecchiali, L’Encinéclopédie. Cinéastes “français” des années 1930 et leur oeuvre, Éditions de l’oeil, Montreuil 2010       

Cast and Credits

Scen.: Albert Valentin, Charles Spaak. F.: Werner Krien. Scgf.: Willy Schiller, Otto Hunte. Mus.: Roland Manuel. Int.: Raimu (Victor Lagardanne), Madeleine Renaud (Madeleine), Pierre Blanchar (Bastien Robineau), Viviane Romance (Adrienne), Marcelle Géniat (la madre di Lagardanne), Odette Roger (Marie). Prod.: UFA/ACE. DCP. Bn.