Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swine Flu Completely Unrelated to "World's Coolest Movie Star" Jean Gabin

I was trying to find a connection between the current Swine Flu hysteria and Jean Gabin, and there isn't one -- although this photo has recently surfaced!


Friday, April 10, 2009

22-Film Julien Duvivier Tribute at MoMa (NYC), May 2009, Includes Four Jean Gabin Movies, Including Ultra-Rarities!

Harry Nilsson was correct when he sang, "I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City," because in May 2009, NYC will definitively be the place to be: The Museum of Modern Art will be honoring the legendary French director Julien Duvivier, with a twenty-two film/month-long tribute. A great majority of the films being screened have never been shown in the US (they are North American premieres), and a great many of them will feature English subtitles for the very first time.

Duvivier, of course, directed seven films starring his good friend Jean Gabin, and four of them will be screened at MoMa's festival -- not just the ultra-rare La Belle equipe (1936), but also Pepe Le Moko (1937), La Bandera (1935), and Voici le temps des assassins (1956). While Gabin is mostly known in the United States for his collaborations with Jean Renoir and Marcel Carne, another of his great collaborators was Julien Duvivier, a great visual stylist who often peppered his films with some pretty edgy/trippy/hypnotic proto-David Lynch visual moments. (La Belle equipe and Voici le temps des assassins have been out of circulation in America for decades, and neither film has ever been shown on t.v., or on home video.)

The following, is the Museum of Modern Art's press release, which features the entire schedule. Many of the films will be repeated twice, to give cineastes ample opportunity to screen them. The Jean Gabin titles are in bold type.

Exhibition Features Four Films Starring the Legendary Actor Jean Gabin, Including the Celebrated Pépé le Moko (1937)

Composer Stephen Sondheim Will Introduce Un Carnet de bal (1937) on May 14
Julien Duvivier

May 1 – 28, 2009
The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters
Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019
Hours: Films are screened Wednesday-Monday. For screening schedules, please visit www.moma.org.

New York, April 7, 2009
The widely varied and influential career of French director and screenwriter Julien Duvivier (1896-1967) is rediscovered in "Julien Duvivier," a month-long, 22-film retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art, from May 1 through 28, 2009. Working consistently for four decades, both in Europe and Hollywood, in a darkly poetic realist style, Duvivier made popular melodramas, thrillers, religious epics, comedies, wartime propaganda, musicals, and literary adaptations of novels by Emile Zola, Leo Tolstoy, Irène Némirovsky, and Georges Simenon. This exhibition features the New York premieres of four films that have either been recently restored or are shown in Duvivier’s preferred versions, as well as new translations of 14 films.

On May 14, at 8:00 p.m., the composer Stephen Sondheim will introduce Duvivier’s classic sketch film Un Carnet de bal (1937), which he once intended to adapt as a Broadway musical.

The Julien Duvivier retrospective is organized by Joshua Siegel, Associate Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art, and Lenny Borger, film historian and translator.

Jean Renoir once proclaimed, “If I were an architect and I had to build a monument to the cinema, I would place a statue of Duvivier above the entrance… This great technician, this rigorist, was a poet.” Duvivier, who was also championed by other estimable filmmakers and writers, including Ingmar Bergman, Claude Chabrol, Graham Greene, Elaine May, Agnès Varda, and Orson Welles, is largely known for his collaborations with the great actor Jean Gabin in the 1930s. This exhibition features four of these classics of French cinema: the recently restored La Bandera (1935); the New York premiere of Duvivier’s preferred, darker ending to La Belle Équipe (1936); Pépé le Moko (1937); and Voici le temps des assassins (1956).

The exhibition’s rare screenings include Duvivier’s adaptation of the Zola novel Au Bonheur des dames (1930), his adaptation of Simenon’s Inspector Maigret story A Man’s Neck (1933), the enchanting La Fête à Henriette (1952), and the silent and sound versions of Poil de carotte (1925 and 1932), a heartbreaking chronicle of childhood. The 1932 sound version of Poil de carotte—Duvivier’s favorite among his films—will be the opening night feature on Friday, May 1, at 7:00 p.m., introduced by co-curator Lenny Borger.

Also featured in the exhibition are the New York premieres of four films: the delightful and revelatory experimental comedy Allo Berlin? Ici Paris! (1932); the newly restored La Bandera (1935); La Belle Equipe (1936), with Duvivier’s preferred tragic ending; and the wartime propaganda film Untel Père et fils (Heart of a Nation) (1943) in its longer, French theatrical version. “Among the French directors of the classic period,” Claude Chabrol recently observed, “Julien Duvivier is my favorite, with Jean Renoir. He was an auteur who didn’t declare himself one.”

The exhibition is made possible, in part, by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, New York.

Press Contacts: Meg Blackburn, (212) 708-9757, meg_blackburn@moma.org
Margaret Doyle, (212) 408-6400, margaret_doyle@moma.org

For downloadable images, please visit www.moma.org/press.
No. 28

Film Admission: $10 adults; $8 seniors, 65 years and over with I.D. $6 full-time students with current I.D. (For admittance to film programs only.) The price of a film ticket may be applied toward the price of a Museum admission ticket when a film ticket stub is presented at the Lobby Information Desk within 30 days of the date on the stub (does not apply during Target Free Friday Nights, 4:00–8:00 p.m.). Admission is free for Museum members and for Museum ticketholders.
The public may call (212) 708-9400 for detailed Museum information. Visit us at www.moma.org

Julien Duvivier

All films are directed by Julien Duvivier and in French, with English subtitles, except The Great Waltz and Anna Karenina (both in English), and The Little World of Don Camillo (in Italian, with English subtitles).

Friday, May 1
7:00 Poil de carotte. 1932. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, based on the story by Jules Renard. With Harry Baur, Robert Lynen, Catherine Fonteney.
With its justifiably famous “wedding” scene of Poil de carotte to a little country girl, this astonishingly sophisticated early sound film is a visual poem of innocence and grace that would inspire René Clément’s Jeux interdits (Forbidden Games) twenty years later. “In a rare example of a remake surpassing its memorable original,” Lenny Borger notes, “Duvivier gave definitive form to this classic chronicle of childhood. Baur plays the father with all his subtle authority and young Lynen cuts deep to the desperate pathos of lonely Poil de Carotte. A film of great tenderness, and lyricism, with a final reconciliation scene between Baur and Lynen to force a sob from the stoniest breast.” 91 min.
Introduced by co-curator Lenny Borger

Saturday, May 2
1:30 Allo Berlin? Ici Paris! 1932. France/Germany. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, Rolf E. Vanloo. With Josette Day, Wolfgang Klein, Germaine Aussey.
One of the exhibition’s major rediscoveries, Allo Berlin? reveals a lighter, more experimental side of Duvivier, with a charming sentimentality and hilarious visual and verbal gags to rival those of fellow French filmmaker René Clair. Young switchboard operators in Paris and Berlin meet cute by flirting across telephone lines, national borders, and romance languages in this celebration of continental cosmopolitanism between the wars. 89 min.

5:00 La Tête d’un homme (A Man’s Neck). 1933. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Pierre Calmann, Louis Delaprée, Duvivier, based on the novel by Georges Simenon. With Harry Baur, Valery Inkizhinov, Gaston Jacquet.
“One of the first great screen incarnations of Georges Simenon’s famous sleuth, Inspector Maigret. Only months after Jean Renoir filmed La Nuit de carrefour with his actor brother Pierre, Duvivier passed the pipe to Harry Baur, and the results were just as broodingly electric. Maigret roams crowded Montparnasse cafés and dingy tenements as he plays cat and mouse with a nihilistic, Dostoevskian killer (hauntingly played by Russian émigré actor Valery Inkizhinov). Both a classic film noir and a seminal police procedural” (Borger). 98 min.

8:00 Panique. 1946. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, Charles Spaak, based on the novel Les Fiançailles de Monsieur Hire by Georges Simenon. With Michel Simon, Viviane Romance, Max Dalban.
Duvivier’s late masterpiece, a coruscating vision of evil, foreshadows Hitchcock in its tensions and recalls Henri-Georges Clouzot’s The Raven and Fritz Lang’s Fury in its themes of small town hysteria and the framing of an innocent man. Michel Simon gives a virtuoso performance as Monsieur Hire, George Simenon’s lonely, voyeuristic bachelor, who falls for a gangster’s seductive moll and is set up for the murder of an old woman. 96 min.

Sunday, May 3
2:30 Poil de carotte. 1925. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, based on the story by Jules Renard. With André Heuzé, Henry Krauss, Charlotte Barbier-Krauss.
Duvivier’s breakthrough film is a heartbreaking, Dickensian story of a country boy, derisively nicknamed “Carrot Top,” who is physically and emotionally abused by his mother and neglected by his father. Recalling two other brilliant, silent-era portraits of childhood suffering—his mentor André Antoine’s Le Coupable (1917) and Jacques Feyder’s Visages d’enfants (1925)— Duvivier imbues his melodrama with a psychological depth, a sensitivity to peasant customs and pastoral light, and a harsh naturalism that transforms the Alpine landscape into a metaphor for loneliness and cruelty. Silent; piano accompaniment. Approx. 108 min.

5:30 Poil de carotte. 1932. (See Friday, May 1, 7:00.)

Monday, May 4
4:30 Poil de carotte. 1925. (See Sunday, May 3, 2:30.)

8:00 Allo Berlin? Ici Paris! 1932. (See Saturday, May 2, 1:30.)

Wednesday, May 6
4:30 La Tête d’un homme (A Man’s Neck). 1933. (See Saturday, May 2, 5:00.)

Thursday, May 7
4:30 La Belle Équipe (They Were Five). 1936. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, Charles Spaak. With Jean Gabin, Charles Vanel, Viviane Romance.
Made during the gathering storms of war, economic collapse, and social unrest—and in the same radical cinematic year as Gregory La Cava’s My Man Godfrey and Jean Renoir, Jacques Becker et al.’s La Vie est à Nous—La Belle Équipe has long been considered a celebration of Popular Front ideals of working-class solidarity and universal brotherhood. But the director’s preferred tragic ending, with Viviane Romance’s sexual temptations spelling doom for Jean Gabin and Charles Vanel—shown here in the U.S. for the first time—renders this one of Duvivier’s bleakest masterpieces. Five penniless workers win the lottery and are able to realize their dream of opening a guinguette (café-restaurant and pleasure garden) on the banks of the Marne. Duvivier uses beautifully fluid camerawork, pastoral settings, and popular song to mark their freedom from the crushing defeat of poverty, then sabotages their noble enterprise through a crime of passion. 101 min.

Friday, May 8
4:30 La Bandera. 1935. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, Charles Spaak. With Jean Gabin, Annabella, Robert Le Vigan.
Recently restored by the Archives Françaises du Film, Duvivier’s sensuous and brooding Foreign Legion melodrama was a commercial success and made Jean Gabin a star, helping to forge his romantic image, solidified in Pépé le Moko, as the doomed existential antihero haunted by a criminal past and driven toward death. Filmed in Spain and Morocco on the eve of civil war—the original theatrical release was dedicated to “Colonel Franco”—La Bandera is an Orientalist fantasy
infused with the quality of reportage, most notably in the tense chase sequence through the mean streets of Barcelona, about which Alistair Cooke observed, “It looks like an exquisite newsreel taken away and baked brown to give you the feel of the air.” 100 min.

Saturday, May 9
1:30 David Golder. 1930. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, based on the novel by Irène Némirovsky. With Harry Baur, Jackie Monnier, Paule Andral.
Duvivier’s first sound film catapulted him to world renown. In this operatic adaptation of the controversial novel by Irène Némirovsky (the recently rediscovered author of Suite Française), Harry Baur gives a wrenching performance as an immigrant Jewish tycoon who makes money the ruthless and vengeful way, but ends up being bitterly betrayed by his scheming wife and daughter. Exposing man’s rank instincts for hatred, duplicity, and greed, Duvivier shows an unflinching pessimism that would also distinguish later films like La Fin du jour (1939) and Panique (1947). The Nazi murders of Némirovsky and Baur—she in Auschwitz in 1942, and he by the Gestapo in Paris a year later—deepen the film’s tragic dimensions. 86 min.

5:00 Le Tourbillon de Paris (The Whirlwind of Paris). 1927. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, based on the novel La Sarrazine by Germaine Acremant. With Lil Dagover, Léon Bary, Gaston Jacquet.
Dagover, a star of German Expressionist cinema, plays an opera singer who becomes restless in her marriage to an older Scottish lord, and longs to return to the limelight of the Parisian stage. The film’s psychological realism is heightened by Duvivier’s clever use of double exposure to convey the tension between inner thought and outward appearance. Silent; with piano accompaniment. Approx. 108 min.

8:00 La Belle Équipe (They Were Five). 1936. (See Thursday, May 7, 4:30.)

Sunday, May 10
5:00 La Bandera. 1935. (See Friday, May 8, 4:30.)

Monday, May 11
8:00 La Vie miraculeuse de Thérèse Martin. 1929. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, Thérèse de Lisieux. With Simone Bourday, André Marnay.
“The most authentic of Duvivier’s religious films, this is a stark and striking biographical account of the late nineteenth-century Carmelite nun who died at age 24 and was canonized. Simone Bourday has genuine adolescent fervor as Theresa and André Marnay is pathetically fine as her father. The sequence of the taking of the veil has extraordinary documentary force. The same material inspired Alain Cavalier’s 1986 masterpiece Thérèse” (Borger). Silent; piano accompaniment. Approx. 113 min.

Wednesday, May 13
4:30 David Golder. 1930. (See Saturday, May 9, 1:30.)

8:00 Au bonheur des dames. 1930. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Noël Renard, based on the novel by Émile Zola. With Dita Parlo, Pierre de Guingand, Armand Bour.
Duvivier’s last silent film is a modern retelling of Zola’s panoramic chronicle of mid-nineteenth-century Parisian society, centering on a small fabric shop struggling to survive in the shadow of a luxury department store. With expressionist shades of Erich von Stroheim and G.W. Pabst (Duvivier worked for a time in the German film industry), Au bonheur captures the rhythms of urban life—and the pleasures of bourgeois consumer culture, with its obsessions with fashion and image—while also creating a stinging portrait of capitalist ruthlessness, class tensions, and sexual competition. Silent; piano accompaniment. Approx. 85 min.

Thursday, May 14
4:30 La Fin du jour (The End of the Day). 1938. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, Charles Spaak. With Victor Francen, Michael Simon, Louis Jouvet.
One of French cinema’s most poignant, and caustic, portraits of the world of theater. Duvivier, who got his start as a (failed) actor on the French stage in the 1910s, collaborated with his longtime screenwriting partner Charles Spaak on this story of an old-age home for destitute, forgotten actors who relive past triumphs and defeats even as they fade into obsolescence. Giving credence to Jean-Luc Godard’s claim that in the theater there is life, and in life, theater, Duvivier masterfully contrasts the illusory world on stage with the cold reality of life—and death—off it. In keeping with the film’s elegiac tone, Simon, Jouvet, Francen and other great French actors performing at the peak of their careers, show astonishing subtlety, intelligence, and pathos. 100 min.

8:00 Un Carnet de bal (The Dance Card). 1937. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, Henri Jeanson, Yves Mirande, Jean Sarment, Pierre Wolff, Bernard Zimmer. With Françoise Rosay, Harry Baur, Louis Jouvet, Raimu, Fernandel, Pierre Blanchar, Pierre Richard-Willm.
In the first and greatest of all Duvivier’s portmanteau films, a rich widow seeks to discover the fates of the suitors she danced with as a young woman at her first ball. As Graham Greene marveled in his 1937 review, the mood of melancholy nostalgia gives way to farce, tragedy, menace, and then pure annihilating misery as she reunites with a village mayor, a gangster, a priest, the mother of a suicide, and an epileptic abortionist: “The padded and opulent emotions wither before the evil detail: the camera shoots at a slant so that the [abortionist’s] dingy flat rears like a sinking ship….Genuine poverty is in Duvivier’s Marseilles flat—the tin surgical basin, the antiseptic soap, the mechanical illegality and the complete degradation.” 130 min.
Introduced by composer Stephen Sondheim

Friday, May 15
4:30 Pot-Bouille. 1957. France/Italy. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, Léo Joannon, Henri Jeanson. With Gérard Philipe, Danielle Darrieux, Dany Carrel, Anouk Aimée.
“A scintillating satire of the discrete charms of the French bourgeoisie under the Second Empire. Returning nearly 30 years later to Zola for his inspiration, Duvivier (again abetted by screenwriter Henri Jeanson) fashions a sardonic comedy that often whirs like a Feydeau farce. The sterling cast is headed by Gérard Philippe as a young provincial on the make in Paris, and Danielle Darrieux as the owner of the drapery shop where he finds employment. Arguably Duvivier’s last major artistic success” (Borger). 115 min.

8:00 La Fin du jour (The End of the Day). 1938. (See Thursday, May 14, 4:30.)

Sunday, May 16
1:30 Pépé le Moko. 1937. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Henri La Barthe, Duvivier. With Jean Gabin, Mireille Balin, Marcel Dalio.
A milestone on the path from Scarface to Casablanca, The Third Man, and The Battle of Algiers, Duvivier’s most influential film stars Jean Gabin as a suave Parisian jewel thief who eludes capture by taking refuge in the Casbah, the shadowy, mysterious, and labyrinthine quarter of Algiers transformed into the exotic, and erotic, Arabian nights of our colonialist imagination. Graham Greene rhapsodized, “I cannot remember [a picture] which has succeeded so admirably in raising the thriller to a poetic level,” and French auteurist André Bazin observed, “With Gabin…death is, after all, at the end of the adventure, implacably awaiting its appointment. The fate of Gabin is precisely to be duped by life.” 94 min.
5:00 Au bonheur des dames. 1930. (See Wednesday, May 13, 8:00.)

8:00 Pot-Bouille. 1957. (See Friday, May 15, 4:30.)

Sunday, May 17
2:30 The Great Waltz. 1938. USA. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Samuel Hoffenstein, Walter Reisch. With Luise Rainer, Fernand Gravet, Miliza Korjus.
Duvivier made his Hollywood debut with this opulent MGM musical—said to be a favorite of Stalin’s!—about the romantic, early years of composer Johan Strauss, written by the émigrés Gottfried Reinhardt and Samuel Hoffenstein and gorgeously photographed by the Oscar-winning Joseph Ruttenberg. Attempting to capture the lilting rhythms and charms of Strauss’s waltzes and operas (set here to lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and performed by the Viennese-born soprano diva Miliza Korjus), Duvivier moved from lavish set piece to lavish set piece, in the café, the garden, the palace, and the opera house—leading one critic to call the film “a symphony in soft focus”—before Josef von Sternberg stepped in to direct the wonderfully kitschy final sequence, the carriage ride through the Viennese woods when Strauss was inspired by birdsong to write The Blue Danube. 103 min.

5:30 Anna Karenina. 1948. Great Britain. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Jean Anouilh, Duvivier, Guy Morgan. With Vivien Leigh, Ralph Richardson, Kieron Moore.
“The multiplicity of pronunciations of ‘Karenina’ by various people is a trifle distracting,” a Variety reviewer observed in 1948, in one of many critical drubbings of the film. And yet—and yet—Duvivier’s screen adaptation of Tolstoy, one of British producer Alexander Korda’s most lavish postwar productions (and biggest flops), has its irresistible pleasures: the great Henri Alekan’s moodily atmospheric cinematography, Russian designer Andrej Andrejew’s set designs and Cecil Beaton’s costumes, Ralph Richardson’s magisterial Karenin, and Vivien Leigh’s desperate performance as the doomed heroine, less icy than Greta Garbo’s earlier film interpretations and heralding her Blanche DuBois three years later. 139 min.

Monday, May 18
8:00 Pépé le Moko. 1937. (See Saturday, May 16, 1:30.)

Wednesday, May 20
4:30 Anna Karenina. 1948. (See Sunday, May 17, 5:30.)

8:00 The Great Waltz. 1938. (See Sunday, May 17, 2:30.)

Thursday, May 21
4:30 Untel père et fils (Heart of a Nation). 1940. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. With Louis Jouvet, Michèle Morgan, Raimu, Suzy Prim, Louis Jourdan.
Shortly before the Nazi occupation of Paris and his own exile in America, Duvivier made this rousing, patriotic account of a single French family living across several generations under the specter of three German military invasions. Considered one of Duvivier’s most unsung achievements, the film survived Nazi orders that it be destroyed, and anticipates David Lean and Noël Coward’s This Happy Breed, made four years later, in capturing family life on the home front, from the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 to the drole de guerre (while ignoring, as several critics noted, some of the darker aspects of French social history, including the Dreyfus Affair and the Action française). 110 min.

7:00 Sous le ciel de Paris (Under Paris Skies). 1950. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, René Lefèvre. With Brigitte Auber, Daniel Ivernel, Jean Brochard.
In Duvivier’s valentine to Paris, a dead body floats down the Seine, an open heart beats on the surgical table, an old spinster lives in a garret full of starving cats, a sculptor can scarcely conceal his murderous impulses, and yet it is the romantic pursuits of a young medical student, a photographer’s model, and a country girl that fill the air with an intoxicating joy. From dawn to dusk to dawn, the passionate, comical, tragic, and sinister lives of six Parisians intersect through fate and chance. The film’s beloved and bittersweet title song, later immortalized by Edith Piaf and Yves Montand, and the street photography throughout early 1950s Paris, render this an unacknowledged forerunner to the French New Wave. 110 min.

Friday, May 224:30 La Vie miraculeuse de Thérèse Martin. 1929. (See Monday, May 11, 8:00.)

8:00 Voici le temps des assassins (Deadlier than the Male). 1956. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, Charles Dorat, Maurice Bessy. With Jean Gabin, Danièle Delorme, Robert Arnoux, Gérard Blain.
“Duvivier’s darkest study of moral depravity, this is a harrowing drama of a successful restauranteur (Gabin) who takes in and marries a young angel-faced orphan (Delorme), only to discover she is the conniving daughter of his vengeful ex-wife. The film marked the definitive screen gentrification of Gabin, now in his fifties and destined to play middle-class patriarchs and gentlemen gangsters. Robert Gys’s studio reconstruction of the Halles food market is a masterpiece of production design” (Borger). 114 min.

Saturday, May 23
1:30 Untel père et fils (Heart of a Nation). 1940. (See Thursday, May 21, 4:30.)

5:00 Un Carnet de bal (The Dance Card). 1937. (See Thursday, May 14, 8:00.)

8:00 La Fête à Henriette (Holiday for Henrietta). 1952. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, Henri Jeanson. With Dany Robin, Michel Auclair.
In this enchanting classic, beloved by filmmakers like Agnès Varda, Elaine May, and Woody Allen and remade in Hollywood as Paris When It Sizzles, Duvivier and
longtime writing partner Henri Jeanson send up the timeless clash between comedy and drama while also parodying their own screenwriting habits, particularly in Sous le ciel de Paris. Two scriptwriters argue about the fate of Henrietta, a charming and gamine shopgirl. One favors a comical path for their heroine, who is overcome with sentimental love for a young photographer on Bastille Day. The other has a more thrilling and dastardly fate in mind for her. Among the film’s irresistible conceits is Hildegarde Knef as an oversexed circus bareback rider. 118 min.

Sunday, May 24
2:00 Le Petit Monde de Don Camillo (The Little World of Don Camillo). 1951. France/Italy. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Duvivier, René Barjavel, based on the stories of Giovanni Guareschi. With Fernandel, Gino Cervi, Vera Talchi.
A true French blockbuster, the first in a series of satirical films based on Giovanni Guareschi’s beloved stories, with the great comic actor Fernandel in top form as a famous priest who engages in a battle of cosmic proportions with the parish’s Communist mayor. Duvivier finds wit and warmth—as well as the chance for unity and understanding—in warring ideologies. In Italian, English subtitles. 107 min.

5:00 Voici le temps des assassins (Deadlier than the Male). 1956. (See Friday, May 22, 8:00.)

Monday, May 25
7:00 Le Petit Monde de Don Camillo (The Little World of Don Camillo). 1951. (See Sunday, May 24, 2:00.)

Thursday, May 28
8:00 La Fête à Henriette (Holiday for Henrietta). 1952. (See Saturday, May 23, 8:00.)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Jean Gabin Comes to Nashville!

If you happen to be in Nashville on April 9, 2009, stop by the Downtown Presbyterian Church! No, I'm not kidding: In honor of the Easter holiday, the Church will be screening a 16-millimeter print of Golgotha (1935), director Julien Duvivier's moving tale of the Christ, featuring Jean Gabin as a very sympathetic Pontius Pilate. Duvivier, of course, will also direct Gabin in Pepe Le Moko (1937).

To this author's knowledge, Golgotha hasn't been screened publicly in the U.S. in decades, and if you're anywhere near Nashville, it's definitely worth seeing, because you're probably familiar with the more "famous" Christ movies -- Nicholas Ray's King of Kings, etc. -- and this one is just as important, especially because it is the first "sound" film about Jesus in any language. Here are the details:


Read more about Jean Gabin and Golgotha in WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN by Charles Zigman, available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, or ask your favorite bookseller.

Jean Gabin, NYC, March 7, 1941

This Associated Press wirephoto shows Jean Gabin with his date for the evening, Lady Ashley Hamilton, at a New York nightclub on March 7, 1941.

Lady Ashley of Alderly (nee Edith Louise Sylvia Hawkes), at this point, was the widow of swashbuckling silent superstar Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., to whom she had been married for three years, between 1936 and 1939. Nine years after this picture is taken, she will marry Clark Gable (you can read more about her marriage to Gable in this 1950 Photoplay article: http://www.geocities.com/cactus_st/article/article85.html).

During his all-too-brief U.S. period (1941-1943), Jean Gabin also dated Marlene Dietrich and Ginger Rogers. When this picture was taken he had not yet starred in his two American films, Moontide and Impostor.

WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN BY CHARLES ZIGMAN, is available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, or ask a bookseller near you.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Parisians See Bracelet Given by Jean Gabin to Marlene Dietrich

Here's an article I found recently on AFP: Between now and July 2009, visitors to the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris can see art deco jewelry designed by Jean Despres -- including a bracelet which Jean Gabin presented to Marlene Dietrich, when the two dated in the 1940s:

Art Deco's life in the fast lane
Mar 21, 2009

PARIS (AFP) — Art Deco was so ahead of its time that its practitioners were accused of being "too modern" and their work looks contemporary today, even though it is more than 80 years old.

The Musee des Art Decoratifs in Paris has mounted a major retrospective to celebrate Jean Despres, one of the fathers of modern jewellery, and other leading "modernist" jewellers working in the Roaring Twenties and Thirties.

"Life was going faster. Cars, planes, trains, everything was going faster. They wanted things to be monumental, so they could be seen from a distance," explains Laurence Mouillefarine, associate curator of the show, picking out some big, showy brooches to illustrate the point.

"They also wanted their work to be more affordable, so they used silver or silver plating instead of gold, and semi-precious stones like citrine, onyx, moonstones and rock crystal, much cheaper than diamonds."

Lacquer, which the Chinese brought to Europe during the war, when it was used as glue on aircraft propellers, was also popular.

The new style was known as "sports jewellery" or "travel jewellery" and still tended to be worn only by an elite, avant-garde set.

"It's hard to appreciate how very daring this was at the time. Costume jewellery didn't exist," says Mouillefarine.

Despres had 80 of his pieces rejected by the jury for the Salon D'Autumne trade show in 1928 for being "too modern," says Melissa Gabardi, who wrote the first monograph on Despres 10 years ago.

Despres was very influenced by Cubism: the painter Georges Braques was his best friend.

During World War I he worked on aircraft engines and his early jewellery was openly inspired by machinery and engine parts, like his camshaft ring.

He initially used silver, because he didn't have the money for more expensive materials, together with coral, onyx, enamel and lapis lazuli.

The ring remained his favourite. "What I enjoy mostly and that I can do in a different way from the others," he told the engraver Etienne Cournault, with whom he collaborated.

The exhibition has a showcase with a chronological display of rings from the 1920s to 1970s and a small room wallpapered with his designs, which "are very easy to wear even today," says Gabardi.

"He was very successful in his lifetime. His work was collected by stars, like Josephine Baker and Andy Warhol," says Gabardi.

But because he didn't have children to carry on the business, he had largely been forgotten by his death in 1980.

Art Deco had already fallen out of fashion by the 1940s. In fact, it wasn't until 1969 that the term "Art Deco" was coined by the British historian and journalist Bevis Hillier to refer to the geometric style of the 20s and 30s.

Apart from the Despres pieces which the artist himself donated to the museum, 80 percent of the exhibits come from private collections, more than half abroad. One of the major contributions is from the American model and face of Victoria's Secret, Stephanie Seymour.

Highlights include a 1930 Cartier bracelet of ballbearings set in gold which actor Jean Gabin gave Marlene Dietrich and a 1932 rock crystal bracelet owned by Gloria Swanson.

A silver pendant with green and black lacquer by Jean Fouquet was acquired in the 1970s by Chanel's chief designer Karl Lagerfeld, a notoriously avid art collector.

A bracelet by Suzanne Belperron was worn by the style icon, American Vogue editor Diana Vreeland.

Apart from jewellery, exhibits include exquisite objets d'art -- ultra-slim cigarette cases, rendered obsolete by today's no-smoking laws, with such symbols of modernity as a racing car or a typewriter.

There is even a sleek little vanity case. Once only prostitutes wore make-up, but by the 1920s free-spirited women even dared to make themselves up in public.

It took the curators a full year to track down the items they wanted for the exhibition, as most are in private hands. And even then, sometimes they were frustrated.

"An old lady with a bracelet said she couldn't bear to lend it to the exhibition because she didn't have that much more time left to wear it. I didn't insist," says Mouillefarine.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved. More »

Thursday, April 2, 2009

MC Jean Gab'1 Takes Over America

Several months ago on this blogsite, I mentioned MC Jean Gab'1 (pronounced: MC Jean Gabin), the popular French/Senagalese rapper who's taken over France.

Now, MC Jean is poised to take over America! This year, he starred in his first feature, director Pierre Lafargue's BLACK. The film had its U.S. premiere on March 14th at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival in Austin, and is presently awaiting North American distribution.

It is "this author's" dream that American movie studios will take notice and star MC Jean Gab'1 in his first U.S.-made action movie, and this will be doubly good news, because when the publicity machine gears up to introduce Americans to the rapper, they'll have to, by necessity, call people's attention to the legendary French movie star Jean Gabin (1904-1976) from whom MC Jean Gabin'1 got his name.

For more on both MC Jean Gab'1 and "the original" Jean Gabin, go to www.jeangabinbook.com, and read about (and buy) WORLD'S COOLEST MOVIE STAR: THE COMPLETE 95 FILMS (AND LEGEND) OF JEAN GABIN, VOLUMES ONE AND TWO, BY CHARLES ZIGMAN.