Le Bonheur (1934)
Posted by Solomon on 10/5/2017, 2:50 pm
This movie also will be shown at THE FRENCH HAD A NAME FOR IT 4. The reviews of this by the French critics on IMDb are mixed. Some emphasize the strong points, others, the weaker points. Again, if you prefer complete surprise, read no further.
I'm enthusiastic about this film. I watched this last night and I really loved it. I'll rate it 8/10. Charles Boyer, recreating the role he had on the stage, gives us a great, great performance. The writing is terrific in showing us the main characters. Boyer is an anarchist, and his outlook and behavior are accurate representations of the anarchist of that time period.
But this is an anarchist whose ideas are shaken by his attraction to someone who represents what he despises. Gaby Morlay plays a famous actress. Her part too is extremely well-written in depicting the emotional sensitivity of an artist accustomed to understanding many kinds of people. In addition, we see her sacrifice to her career, her dominant relations with men, her need to be in the spotlight, and her weak side.
Michel Simon plays Morlay's manager. His gay sexuality is prominent, but he's shown as quite devious and calculating. It's his date for dinner who is depicted as a sissy.
The staging is first-rate. The camera is fluid. The lighting is expressionist. This is the furthest thing from hard-boiled Hollywood crime noir, even though there is a lengthy trial sequence and the plot moves ahead on a shooting. This is sensitive and shaded noir.
Posted by Don Malcolm on 10/7/2017, 9:23 am, in reply to "Le Bonheur (1934)"
This 30s double bill (with MOLLENARD) is one of my favorites out of all the ones we've put together. It shows what we know about how noir works its way into more traditional (melo)drama, and reminds us that it has many guises--both a "genre" and a "style," pushing past the conventions of drama to add a peculiar tension, anxiety, and--especially relevant to LE BONHEUR--irony.
Posted by Solomon on 10/7/2017, 2:26 pm, in reply to "Re: Le Bonheur (1934)"
If you could, would you include the magnificent MADAME DE in a noir program for the same reason?
Posted by Don Malcolm on 10/8/2017, 8:56 am, in reply to "Re: Le Bonheur (1934)"
THE FRENCH HAD A NAME FOR IT mostly focuses on rare/"lost" films, though occasionally for context we drop in something more familiar (LE CORBEAU, LE JOUR SE LEVE).
But in a different programming format--particularly one that was lengthier--you could certainly bring MADAME DE into the picture as a kind of counterpoint to the dark melodramas that we have learned to place into the noir category. You could even pair it with LE BONHEUR (which would give you an interesting Charles Boyer double bill).
But I think it might match up better with a film like LA VÉRITÉ SUR BÉBÉ DONGE, which has a striking plot contrast to MADAME DE, and gives us what might just be the best Danielle Darrieux double feature that's possible to program.