• Julien Duvivier’s Lydia can’t quite be called a remake of Un Carnet de Bal (also known as Christine from 1937). Duvivier remade a number of his silent films into talking films—but this is more a spiritual remake—instead of ten men we have three here (well four really), and the lead female isn’t a widow, she ran a school for blind children instead of marrying any of these men. But all the dialogue, scenarios, roles, have changed.
  • The great Ben Hecht had a hand in the screenplay (as he did in hundreds of films during the era)
  • A very fetching Merle Oberon plays Lydia—Joseph Cotton plays one of her suitors. There is a reunion of the suitors and Lydia and they talk about their past love and infatuations – poetic flashbacks, voiceover, nostalgia
  • A great shot of Oberon in makeup (they all play like 90-year olds telling the story in flashback) on the top of the steps in the opening
  • Hard to see Cotton in old man makeup in 1941 and not think of Citizen Kane
  • Duvivier uses almost all of his stylistic tools here capably- a very smooth slow-motion sequence at the 17-minute mark as they enter the ball (again from Un Carnet de Bal). This isn’t Rashomon but they do shift perspectives of the flashback and we see both Oberon’s version of what happened and Cotton’s—sort of an unreliable narrator though it isn’t held (in one other scene we get “what a beautiful sunny day that was” and when Duvivier cuts it goes to rain)
  • Not as many longer takes as his 1930’s work in France
  • A great near-perfect match of Oberon in profile close-up as we go from her at an elderly age to her in flashback—35-minute mark
  • The school for blind children angle is a little Leo McCarey—but there is actually a great tableau frame at the 49-minute mark with Duvivier panning left to right—the faces of the children blocking each other
  • 52-minute mark—white lights covering the windows behind Oberon- luminous
  • At the 56-minute mark a right to left tracking shot as Oberon’s Lydia and a suitor dance—there are streamers in front of the camera obstructing the mise-en-scene—Duvivier’s camera pushes through the doors twice in the same shot (similar to him kicking the doors open in La tête d’un homme). When that brilliant shot ends we get the two in silhouette in front of wall of lights. Duvivier then cuts to silhouette of them old age on balcony in front of city skyline- a sublime sequence

the best sequence in the film culminates with this shot here

  • Duvivier is part Renoir and Ophuls — parts of the flashbacks do feel like they may have influenced Ophuls Letters From an Unknown Woman (1948)even here, the man who Oberon’s Lydia is in love with- doesn’t remember her

Duvivier is part Renoir and Ophuls — parts of the flashbacks do feel like they may have influenced Ophuls Letter From an Unknown Woman (1948) — even here, the man who Oberon’s Lydia is in love with- doesn’t remember her 

  • Starts a scene on a close-up of an object, pulls back within the shot, sometimes moves and reframes
  • Highly Recommend- top 10 of the year quality