With Pépé le Moko coming out earlier in 1937—it certainly appears that this is at least the brightest of Julien Duvivier’s star—the moment he had the most clout and stature
The narrative plays out similarly to Jim Jarmusch’s 2005’s Broken Flowers– Marie Bell plays Christine (another common title for the film)—it is a step by step episodic structure- Christine, now a widow, is going back to all of the old dancing partners and crossing them off on a list (10 total- but Duvivier doesn’t show all 10).
Heavy wipes in transitions
Floral arrangement in the frame of Christine’s mansion—I doubt it is an influence and it isn’t on that level but reminded me of Swedish director Molander’s Intermezzo in 1936.
Duvivier has shown again and again he is like a pitcher that can throw every pitch—he’s known for his lyrical camera tracking shots— but here there’s also a beautiful use of slow-motion (Jean Vigo’s Zero For Conduct is 1933)– dancing sequence at the ball (in memory—perfect use) and then a dissolve montage and it ends with a wipe transition
A stalking camera – Duvivier doesn’t like to cut
At 51 minutes- the camera tracks in on Harry Baur (another Duvivier collaboration)- he’s playing a priest- the moving camera has a palpable impact on the scene as they remember each other. Another one at the 90-minute mark as the camera pulls back at the wedding
A film about regret—unfilled lives—lives changed by one fateful night- sad
All of the ex-dance partners are interesting—nobody is happy selling insurance- haha. One is mayor getting married, one the seedy owner of a nightclub, a priest, a worker in the mountains—the doctor is the greatest segment
So there are really two films here- the rest of the film is a solid recommend- but the one segment with the bizarre one-eyed doctor is utterly brilliant. It is at the 97-minute mark—Duvivier uses canted angles galore- the entire apartment and sequence at an angle. German-expressionism. If that wasn’t enough there is a bulldozer outside shifting back and forth in the eye-line
Slow-motion at the ball again
Dissolves of Gerald
Highly Recommend- goes up a notch on the strength of that one sequence
@Malith- invaluable assistance- as always