Saturday, 6 February 2010


Over the last few years Marcel Carne has become one of my very favourite directors, ever since I saw what many regard, not only as his towering achievement but one of the defining moments of the cinema, LES ENFANTS DU PARADIS. Carne's golden years are usually accepted as being from about 1935 until around 1948. Films he made outside these years are difficult to come by and thus it is difficult for those who discovered Carne late to decide. THERESE RAQUIN made in 1953 is generally regarded to be inferior to his earlier work but the film is more than capable of standing on its own. Of course the changes that Carne makes to Emile Zola's original novel will probably upset some Zola purists - the novel features no blackmail plotCheck Spelling and the book ends with the adulterers suicide. Carne goes for a completely new and more cinematically suspenseful end which I found quite satisfactory. Like Zola, Carne is not overly sympathetic to his lovers - what empathy we feel for them may come from their predicament rather than the way they deal with it - and, of course, from the casting of two very charismatic and attractive lead in Simone Signoret and Raf Vallone. Other performances are excellent with Roland LeSaffre as the blackmailer, forever smiling and polite and every bit as sinister as Robert Mitchum (whom he somewhat resembles) in CAPE FEAR. Le Saffre was a new actor to me but the very next day I spotted him in a minor role in Alfred Hitchcock's TO CATCH A THIEF as the young man who tells Cary Grant that he has a phonecall on the beach. The film might not be great Carne but it is certainly very good Carne. Rating ****

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