At Alliance Française on Fridays at 8 pm
At Alliance Française on Friday, February 27: Quai des Orfèvres / Jenny Lamour (1947) by Henri-Georges Clouzot – 95 mins – France Crime/ Drama. Black and white. English subtitles. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 89/85 out of 100.
With Louis Jouvet, Bernard Blier, Suzy Delair, Simone Renant, Rene Blancard, Charles Dullin.
Suzy Delair stars as Jenny Lamour, an ambitious music hall singer who wants to be a star and is willing to befriend the lecherous old men who ogle her act, inspiring the jealousy of Jenny's husband Maurice Martineau (Bernard Blier). One particular fan of Jenny's is a wealthy financial backer who extends repeated invitations to the entertainer to join him at fine restaurants and his expansive mansion. Armed with a gun, Maurice goes to the estate to confront his rival one night but discovers that the master of the house is already dead, his wife having smashed a bottle of champagne over his head to stave off a sexual advance. Soon, a gruff but dedicated detective, Inspector Antoine (Louis Jouvet) is on the case, with Maurice taking the heat for Jenny...
– Alliance description
A thriller full of rich complex characters and a dark world view, perhaps attributable to Henri-Georges Clouzot's own experience with Le Corbeau, his previous film which was banned by both Nazi Germany and his French homeland. Brilliantly transforming a classic whodunit plot, the Gallic “Master of Suspense” takes us from the wings and dressing rooms of the Parisian music hall and circus worlds to the drab, airless corridors and holding cells of the Quai's Criminal Investigations Department, in a blend of social realism and psychological cruelty that became his trademark. One of the uncontested masterpieces of the postwar French cinema.
MovieMail, Peter Wild: A classic French film noir set around the dancehalls of 1940s Paris. Singer Jenny meets lecherous movie financier Brignon in order to further her career. Her jealous husband disapproves. When Brignon is murdered, hawk-eyed Inspector Antoine is confronted with three potential murderers and has to try and prise apart all the alibis with which he is confronted.
All of which may sound like a fairly standard crime of passion flick. What makes Quai des Orfèvres special is the relationship between Jenny and Maurice – in many ways this is the crux of the film. Writer-director Henri-Georges Clouzot (these days most famous for helming the mighty Les Diaboliques) turns in an exceptional movie with an interesting twist. On the surface of things, Quai des Orfèvres can be viewed, wrongly, I think, as a conventional story in which a social-climbing woman does her man wrong. Jenny and Maurice do, however, genuinely love each other – and there are tender scenes that go some way toward demonstrating this. What we have here is a crime of passion wrought by a woman who gets herself in a situation as the result of attempting to better her life and the life of her husband.
Shot through with Clouzot's typically morbid humor. Fans of vintage Hitchcock and Pickpocket-era Bresson should make sure they don't let this one slip by.
At Alliance Française on Friday, March 6: Le Jour se lève / Daybreak (1939) by Marcel Carné and Jacques Prévert – 89 mins – France Crime/ Drama/ Romance/ Thriller. Black and white. English subtitles. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 82 out of 100.
With Jean Gabin, Arletty, Jacqueline Laurent, Bernard Blier.
Francois, a sympathetic factory worker, kills Valentin with a gun. He locked himself in his furnished room and starts remembering how he was led to murder. He met once Francoise, a young fleurist, and they fell in love. But Francoise was gotten round by Valentin, a dog trainer, a Machiavellian guy...
– Alliance description
A tough romantic has his love brutalized by the world and, after committing a crime of passion, barricades himself inside his apartment. It comes as no surprise that a film created in France during 1939, under the cloud of impending war, would be doom-laden and pessimistic in tone, but since it’s a film directed by Marcel Carné and written by Jacques Prévert, it's something of a certainty in any year.
At Alliance Française on Friday, March 13: Le Charme discret de la bourgeoisie / The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) by Luis Buñuel – 102 mins – France/ Italy/ Spain, Comedy/ Drama/ Fantasy. English subtitles. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 93/86 out of 100.
With Stéphane Audran, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Bulle Ogier, Michel Piccoli, Delphine Seyrig.
In typical Buñuel fashion The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie surrealistically skewers the conventions of society. The film depicts a series of profoundly frustrating dinner parties. The well-to-do guests gather for especially delectable dinners, but their host does not appear. Every time they are about to begin eating, some bizarre event prevents them. Adding to their tantalization is the dream state many of them enter, with each dream exploring some deeply symbolic or perverse aspect of their lives. Many of the dreams are also of interrupted dinners…
– Alliance description
Luis Buñuel's scathing and surrealistic political comedy masterpiece about a wealthy group of friends repeatedly prevented from beginning their elaborate dinner by increasingly strange events. No matter how hard they try to enjoy the meal and the privileges money affords, everything from closed restaurants to terrorists conspire to thwart their pleasures...and soon it seems that the violence is even pervading their dreams. Academy Award Nominations: 2, including Best (Original) Story and Screenplay. Academy Award: Best Foreign Language Film.