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Henri-Georges Clouzot

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JackFavell
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Re: Henri-Georges Clouzot

Postby JackFavell » November 18th, 2012, 5:37 pm

Isn't it the truth Red? I just really got into the story, the emotions and the flow. It didn't matter as much that some of the shots were breathtaking, but it sure didn't hurt either. It was the most un-self-conscious film I can remember seeing by a great filmmaker.

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Re: Henri-Georges Clouzot

Postby CineMaven » November 18th, 2012, 5:48 pm

JACK FAVELL wrote:...in fact, this movie defies categorization - it encompasses a lot of different genres. I wasn't even sure where to post my review! It's got touches of neorealism, surrealism, expressionism, the avant garde. There's even a little of Rene Clair. It's a police procedural, a noir film, a suspense film, and a musical, not to mention a love story...

Your review Madame Jacques Favell...C'EST MAGNIFIQUE!!! TRES BIEN... I enjoyed it!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The racial and sexual politics of America would never have allowed this movie to be made in 1947 Hollywood without beating us over the head with a lesson or Message or the humane warmth it had. But the French...they are not like us.

WHAT A GREAT MOVIE!!! STILL! ( I watched it recently after not seeing it for years. ) It held up to my memory of it. The plot was full, detailed and gives a good sense of post-war French culture. By the time the movie ended I thought I WAS French. Watching it made me feel like I was wrapped in a 3000-thread count sheet. Ahhhhhhhhhh so satisfying. “QUAI DES ORFEVRES” has the same sensibility to me as “FALLEN IDOL”; love, loyalty, betrayal and a police investigation narrowing and tightening a noose around people we come to care about. The movie also made me think of “THE EARRINGS OF MADAME DE...” Not just because it was French, but because the movie felt so full, real, tactile. Chock-full of detail. Oh darn it I can't logically and clearly explain why. Maybe because I can ‘feel’ the characters, all fully fleshed out. Maybe because I can 'feel' the film.

Now I admit...this is my preference in French pastry:

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But a girl can change her mind and heart, can't she?

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“Quai Des Orfevres” has Gallic charm with shades of Hitchcock and O. Henry and "No Way Out" thrown in for good measure. We visit two distinct worlds in the movie and Clouzot takes his own sweet French time in each of them. The first half of the film deals with the backstage world of show biz. And here is where we’re introduced to the battling Martineaus. Wife Jenny Lamour ( played by SUZY DELAIR ) sort of looks like a sensuously slightly zaftig version of Angela Lansbury.

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Jenny’s a harmless shameless incorrigible flirt and tease. ( I think of Madame de..., maybe even Madame Bovary. Call Me Madam - hmmm...that’s a lot of madams; but not the Merm. ) She’s a headlining chanteuse at the local music hall and soon appears in cafe society due to her singing, sex appeal, drive, ambition and self-promotion. She seduces the audience and co-workers alike. Why fight? How can you stay mad at her. You know she's got you wrapped around her finger.

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Dites-moi "FROMAGE!!"

Her husband is Maurice ( BERNARD BLIER. )

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“It sounds nuts but Maurice is my flame. He may not burn bright but he lights my way.”

...Her very jealous husband. He might look kind of mousy, but he's passionate and has a temper. A co-worker calls him Othello. Maurice's besotted by Jenny. I don’t think he begrudges her a career, if only she were honest with the men who could help her, by telling them she’s married. But then they wouldn’t help her. What a pickle this is...for Maurice. I liked him in spite of himself or myself. He was passionate. He would fight for her...fight anyone. I liked his obsessiveness. Poor little sad-sack.

Lesson No. 1: Remember, don’t get in-between a married couple. You’ll lose. They might fuss and fight, break up and make love, but they’ll side with each other always. I like how Clouzot shows Jenny & Maurice fighting; the fight spans from one location to the next. I like how he cuts through time. For example, we see Jenny practice her new song from rehearsal studio to practicing in her house, to rehearsing onstage to actually putting on a full out performance for an audience, each stanza in a different location. Cleverly done.

This is Dora.

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Dora Monnier ( SIMONE RENANT ) photographer. Chiseled features, statuesque, a beauty. And no nonsense. She has an actual job, owns her business. And she’s in love with Jenny. The French don’t make a big deal about this. It’s not scandalous. She doesn’t have two heads. She’s not the butt of derision. She’s merely in love with her childhood friend. And it’s painfully unrequited for Dora. The dialogue speaks refreshingly frank with no muss, no fuss.

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This is my favorite shot in the movie. We see the triangle of Jenny, Maurice and Dora. Dora and Maurice are in love with Jenny ( see how they both look at her ) ...and Jenny is in love with Jenny ( and even with that, Jenny is looking into THREE mirrors. O mon dieu! ) Jealousy and love makes a person do crazy things like publicly threaten your wife’s suitor or walk into a murder scene. And that's exactly what Maurice and Dora do...for love of Jenny.

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The lecherous little gnome ( CHARLES DULLIN ) Brignon is murdered and the catalyst for everything to follow. And here is where Clouzot moves us into the police procedural aspect of the story. Inspector Antoine is there to unravel it all.

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We find out all about him as he readies himself to leave his son to take on this investigation. His son is bi-racial...again, no fuss no muss, just facts. And he's so loving to the boy, just via him kissing the sleeping child goodbye. ( Awwww! ) The inspector is methodical. Clouzout takes us into the Inspector's world of witnesses, informants, third degrees, beatdowns, reporters/police photographers. The police station is as cacophonied a world as the backstage goings on of Maurice's burlesque hall. We weave in and out of both worlds. I fell in love with dour, unstoppable Inspector Antoine. I...held...my...breath as Clouzot shows us potential witnesses who:

* don't talk
* destroy evidence ( the stolen car )
* burn evidence

What we ( the audience ) know to be clues are thrown away before our very eyes. And we're happy about that. We hold our breath even more when Clouzot shows Inspector Antoine starting to really pick up on things. Doesn't it remind you of “Fallen Idol”? Like Hitchcock, Clouzot builds the suspense by showing us what Dora does and what Maurice does, all in their effort to protect Jenny. We hear Jenny's story of how grindingly poor she was, which helps us understand why she wants to make it so badly. She's not just flibberty gibbet coquette. And Clouzot flips the script a little less we think Jenny WILL let Maurice take the fall for her. She won't. She does love him. She might compartmentalize her feelings...this is for show biz / this is for you. It pains her to see Maurice in such pain, ( though not aware of what he's done ) and she wants to confess; but then Dora doesn't want Jenny to confess b'cuz the cops'll send Jenny up the river ( the Seine ) and Dora will lose her. Jenny and Maurice in some twisted twisted O. Henry plot point both hide something from the police AND each other.

My favorite character is Dora. Independent, she's the holder of Jenny's and Maurice's secrets. When Dora is hauled into the station with other blondes who are suspects, she's stone-faced as a cabbie is questioned to identify a witness. She doesn't look indignant, she doesn't feign flirtatiousness, she just looks straight on. And the Inspector. Inspector Antoine is also my favorite for his doggedness. He will not be put off. And he's funny in a droll Frenchy kind of way. Clouzot doesn't beat us over the head with things. Very subtly:

* Dora's tears when she sees her Maurice and Jenny have made up, once again.
* Inspector Antoine kissing his sleeping son goodbye. Or being told that his son has failed his Geometry exams. ( Ha...he could've used Rohanaka's math teacher ;-) ).
* Does Maurice suspect Dora's feelings? I'm not quite sure. Aaaaah, he's French; he probably does but doesn't feel threatened. Besides, she's his confidante...there's a healthy respect Maurice and Dora have for each other, even if they are ( sort of ) rivals for Jenny's affections.

Clouzot takes us into “No Way Out” territory when Maurice gets in a bind about his whereabouts to being at the scene of the crime. And there's a race against time when Maurice commits his last desperate act while in jail. And even with that scene, Clouzot lets us spend a little time with the prostitute in the cell next to Maurice's. Have I said enough? Have I said too much? I haven't really spoiled the movie for you in terms of how this whole thing turns out. I share Jack's favorite line of the movie. And this line was also soooooo poignant it made me misty-eyed. I want the best for both the Inspector and Dora. Their happily ever after does not lie with each other. And maybe they are doomed not to find happiness. I also loved seeing the detective holding his son's hand at the end...that got me.

Clouzot has done a masterful job showing me what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to take the fall for someone we love.
"You build my gallows high, baby."

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Re: Henri-Georges Clouzot

Postby CineMaven » November 29th, 2012, 5:30 am

JACK FAVELL wrote:Yeah you are probably right, it should be someone sleeker... I actually think Alexis Smith would be perfect! What a shock that would be.

Ha! You said it. JackaaAaay, I hope you don’t mind if I answer you here at the Oasis. I was thinking about your re-casting “QUAI
DES ORFEVRES”
suggestion...and I came up with a possible contender for Dora:

ANN RICHARDS.

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Sorry these are not the best pictures I could get a hold of for her ( some bloody casting agent I am, huh? ) but I hope it gives you an idea. Her image just flashed in my brain for some unknown reason and I ran to pull up a pix before I forgot. She appeared as Jennifer Jones' best friend in “Love Letters” and had a part in ”Sorry Wrong Number.” Click on the “Love Letters” foto to read just the briefest of IMDB bio-info on her.
"You build my gallows high, baby."

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Re: Henri-Georges Clouzot

Postby JackFavell » November 29th, 2012, 7:46 am

Oh my gosh, I think you really hit on something there! She's so good in Love Letters as the best friend, she had so much depth and subtlety. It would really play into our expectations.

I love the idea of recasting, and though I still would love to see a noir with Mary Astor and Gloria Grahame inhabiting the same dark dream universe, I can see this is not the movie for them. Maybe Mary as the Inspector? :D

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Re: Henri-Georges Clouzot

Postby CineMaven » November 29th, 2012, 8:21 am

Yeah...yeah that's it. Depth and subtlety. And ambiguity.

Now for Mary. You're determined to get her in there.

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30's Mary or 40's Mary? You make me laugh. I don't think we can have her as the Inspector. Though she's making a pretty good case for Dora in that first picture. But "Quai..." is a 40's film. And I know you have character actors on the tip of your tongue. Isn't there some supporting actor you want to give a chance? An actor who holds his own ( and holds up every "A" lister he's in a scene with? Sure you can....c'mon. ) Should we throw your boy Joey C. into the mix? He's from Malta. Can you see him open enough to have a bi-racial child? ( Girl, we'll NEVER get it past a 1940's Hollywood censor that that is a GOOD and HUMAN thing. ) Can you see him dogged enough to pursue a murder case? We'd better save your Mary for Noir.

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"I'm your Mother!! And there's NUTHIN' you can do about it!" "Geeez! I'd trade her in for a Ford sedan!"

Gloria and Mary in film noir. I can see it. Mary being in charge of something. Or better yet...the tawdrier the better. Their men are mean. Their fates are doomed. Their victimization complete. And throw Gene ( "POPPY" ) Tierney in there with 'em for good measure. Yeah...I can see that. Jack. ( Ain't I a diabolical casting director? )
"You build my gallows high, baby."

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Re: Henri-Georges Clouzot

Postby JackFavell » November 29th, 2012, 8:52 am

You are a Diabolique for sure!

Yes, I was actually thinking of Mary in Act of Violence when I was having my little daydream of a movie with both her and Gloria. Tawdry. Maybe a remake of Diaboliques? Oh I just want someone to go back in time and put these two women together on screen and never cut away from them. I wish I could go back and write something just for them, not a remake at all but their own project.

My Joey C would be perfect for the role of Inspector Antoine, Maven! As soon as I saw the glimmer in your eye I thought of him. He can play the rogue, the tough guy, the mean street felon, but he also has a reserved, humorous, almost elegant side that was used very few times. In Gilda, he played a character very similar to our dear Inspector. I'll admit, this is where the film lurches a bit for me... because no one could possibly be as wonderful as Louis Jouvet, even my own dear Joe.

What I think what I would like to see in this mental film outing of ours is a slightly darker, maybe more grittily American version of the story. If you got Gloria and Ann and Joe, you've got to take it into subtle territory, because they all do that so well. I'm still thinking Act of Violence territory here, something shadowy, dark and corrupt to the core.

You know, the french version could have been written by Cornell Woolrich, it's so quirky. SO now I am thinking of Paul Lukas, specifically from Deadline at Dawn... he is such a good actor... I don't want to put Joe out of a job though...

How about Maurice? Who on earth for Maurice? I can't help thinking of Boyer, but he is too good looking. He could act the heck out of it though. It needs someone very subtle, because he's really so human and rather stupid. You can't make him a caricature.

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Re: Henri-Georges Clouzot

Postby CineMaven » November 29th, 2012, 9:32 am

As soon as you said Maurice, I thought of Roman Bohnen:

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But no no no...he's not right. I was trying to think of a schlubby sexy guy...but I can't. Do you think Georgie would work? ( You can say no if you want; I'm not the boss of Imagination. ) How 'bout George Sanders. Georgie could whittle down his glacial persona; George and Ella as Maurice and Dora...

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Maurice : "But Dora, you don't understand...I love Jenny so much, I can't bear to think of her with another man."
Dora
: "Yes, Maurice. I...I understand."


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:( :( :(

A casting agent's job is tough. Calleia - Lukas. We've got to pick who's BEST for the part. ( Or whoever brings us Nutella. ) Louis Jouvet IS rather perfect. Perhaps we can give him his script phonetically.

I wish you would write a short dark story based on Gloria and Mary in your mind's eye. I need a short project to film as I'm winding down "Meg Ramsey." Couldn't you just write out a ----- Okay, I know I know. Alright! Sheesh. That's where Alice get's it from.
"You build my gallows high, baby."

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Re: Henri-Georges Clouzot

Postby JackFavell » November 29th, 2012, 9:41 am

Oh you know, I can write reviews, but I am hopelessly unimaginative when it comes to stories. Otherwise, I might take you up on it. I am good at adding bits to already thought out storylines, though.

Ella.... yeah that's good. I adore her! I love George, and I think he could act it, but I think it needs someone schlubbier.

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Re: Henri-Georges Clouzot

Postby CineMaven » November 29th, 2012, 9:50 am

Okay. No stories then. :cry:

Well...it's back to the perfume counter drawing board for me. Gotta put on my 'schlubby' cap and see who I can come up with.
"You build my gallows high, baby."

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