WISH LIST Starring Gabin as Gabin

RICK’S JOURNAL (My Film Career)

We all have a list of must-see(s), if not a written list at least a mental one, the list of films we have somehow, over all the years, missed.  I recently filled one of my own gaps.  I finally saw Carne’s/Prevert’s Quai des brumes (in America, Port of Shadows) (and in America, my apologies to M. Carne and M. Prevert for the lack of accents aigues on my keyboard).

The film was a surprise but in no way a disappointment.  Actually, since the film is a screenplay by Prevert I should not have been surprised by how much the plot and its characters are introduced and carried forward through dialogue.  What would Terry Teachout say?  (See last blog posted May 10.)  But the pace and cutting give a tight unity to this perfect example of French romantic fatalism, French melodrama set in the underworld and its seedy suburbs.

Halliwell calls Quai des brumes studio-bound, and he’s right; but the sets are outstanding.  Even Panama’s tavern and fishing shack out on the shallow headland is more than acceptable.  It’s credible and involving.

In the absence of any real surprises you will still hold your breath as two men, on the run for different reasons, seek to evade their enemies in very different ways.

Jean Gabin of course plays Jean Gabin and does it beautifully.  Michel Simon and Pierre Brasseur keep us remarkably interested in two unlikebale characters.  Michelle Morgan , as usual, is afraid to show emotion for fear of disturbing her beautiful face; but she is right for the part and easy to gaze on.

Quai des brumes
Marcel Carne
(screenplay by Jacques Prevert)

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FOLLOW-UP:  Terry Teachout and Lincoln

In the blog for last week, May 10, I failed to note one of Mr. Teachout’s excellent observations on Lincoln.  Writing about Tony Kushner and Steven Spielberg:  “I am delighted that he and his famous collaborator succeeded in persuading large numbers of Americans to sit and listen to a movie.”  (Wall Street Journal, 2/15/13).  Hear!  Hear!

NEXT POST Friday May 24
Until then,
See you at the movies,

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