Le quai des brumes (1938)

Le quai des brumes
Directed by Marcel Carné
Written by Jacques Prévert based on the novel by Pierre Dumarchais
(number 265)

Here’s another film where I couldn’t tell what it was going to be based on the name. As it happens it’s a pre-World war two noir about an ex soldier, or rather, a deserter, who goes to a port city. He adopts a dog and falls in love with what I have to assume from her beret, perfect make up and fancy rain slicker trenchcoat is the Wrong Sort of Girl.

My copy of the film came with a disclaimer: “When war was declared in September 1939, the film was banned because it was judged ‘immoral, depressing and distressing for the young people.”

Studio Canal’s been around a long time if they made this too.

Jean: I get upset and you think I’ve been drinking. I haven’t. I just haven’t eaten for two days, there’s a sign on my stomach which says ‘cold storage’.

In general this is a melodrama. The story beats and character choices are hard to believe in, but it’s super entertaining all the same. It’s a beautifully shot piece and everyone is so damn handsome and pretty and softly lit. I was involved in the story line and although I generally predicted the twists it was still compelling.

Does it make me love the people? Absolutely, particularly Jean and Nelly.

Bechdel test: The only woman is Nelly so no. Also she’s supposed to be only seventeen which makes all the stuff which happens regarding her love life pretty creepy. The actress looks to be in her thirties to me but that could be me misreading the style and the make up as being for an older woman. Anyway, she’s the prize everyone’s in love with and wants to win. Not exactly a deep character.

Best line:

Quart Vittel: What could be simpler than a tree?
Le peintre: A tree. But when I paint one, it sets everyone on edge. It’s because there’s someone or something hidden behind that tree. I can’t help painting what’s hidden behind things. To me a swimmer is already a drowned man.

(I also like that Jean brings it back later)

State of Mind: Enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Nice tight script and good callbacks to earlier things which are mentioned. Jean is like a thirties Kenneth Branagh and Nelly is a shockingly young character but the actress is wonderful, very compelling. I was just a bit worried about the dog being left on the ship but even that storyline was nicely resolved for me at the end so I was happy.

Watched movie count

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Le Doulos (1962)

Le Doulos
Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville
Written by Jean-Pierre Melville based on the novel by Pierre Lesou
(number 473)

I like French films, pretentious boring French films, I like French films two tickets s’il vous plait

The second of the DVDs I hired from Aro St Video shop. This one is a French Noir from the early sixties. It’s steeped in the tropes of the genre: men in trenchcoats and hats, slow atmospheric music, double talk and stoolies.

Plus… veiled homoerotic comments, although that may be me viewing it weirdly and an issue with the subtitles. It’s hard to say.

This really made me think of the book I bought at Book Soup last year – The Cutie, which was about a mob man investigating a murder. This movie is about a just-released-con being strong armed by the police to give them information. The other lead is Silien who is already a police informer and trying to get the right information to feed the police while protecting the people he actually cares about. Everyone in it is so damn cool. Cool and collected.

It’s a very convoluted film, switching between the two leads Maurice and Silien without warning – which was made more difficult to follow because they looked and dressed very similarly. There was casual brutishness and gorgeous massive cars and fantastic sets, but I found it difficult to really immerse myself in. I suspect that there are better Noir films out there.

Does it make me love the people? No, I don’t think so. It wasn’t so much a study of humanity as a series of very tough men doing tough things and talking hard and double crossing each other. Then a ton of shootings.

Bechdel test: We have two named women – Therese and Anita but they are never spoken talking to anyone but men. It’s not really a surprise to be honest.

Best line: I can’t quote directly but me and Blair both enjoyed Silien insisting that a fence finger his jewels at gunpoint. The fence was all, ‘it’s fine, I can see them from here… they’re worth a lot’ and Silien insisting ‘handle them!’

Oh the entendres …

State of Mind: Everyone was very shooty. I feel it did exactly what it set out to do but I am underwhelmed.

Watched movie count