by Mark Steiner
Another season brings another lot of titles to our growing Wishlist Collection. This time around, we turned to France to acquire a couple of dozen English-friendly Blu-rays and DVDs that cover the years 1934 to 1983. That’s quite a broad range of French cinema, and the titles reflect the variety in genre, mood, and style. Here’s a brief guide to these new acquisitions that will hopefully pique your interest to come and explore this ever-growing collection.
Un Nomme La Rocca, 1961, Jean Becker
Shot with sparkling clarity by master cinematographer Ghislain Cloquet (Mickey One, Night & Fog, Tess,) Becker’s powerful debut feature features Jean-Paul Belmondo a year removed from Breathless as a similarly cocksure criminal on a quest to save a friend.
Two by Julien Duvivier: L’Homme Du Jour (Man of the Hour), 1937 and Untel Pere Et Fils (Heart Of A Nation), 1943.
The former is a delightful tour de force by Maurice Chevalier who plays an aspiring singer, while the latter, made during the Occupation, honors the strength of Parisians as they endure invasion after invasion, from the Franco-Prussian War to the German invasion of WWII.
Poison Ivy Bernard Borderie, 1953
Author Peter Cheyney’s hard-boiled p.i., Lemmy Caution, is known to most as the protagonist of Godard’s Alphaville. But 12 years before that, Eddie Constantine originated the character in this stylish, Casablanca-set thriller. It was Constantine’s first film as well as director Borderie’s, and was such a success that Constantine would go on to play the character 9 more times over the next 40 years.
The Black Monocle, 1961 & The Eye Of The Monocle, 1962 Georges Lautner
The prolific and versatile Paul Meurisse teamed up with Lautner for this pair of lighthearted Eurospy adventures. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but the French certainly had a knack for sumptuously mounted spy thrillers, of which these both are fine examples.
Among others that arrived and will be covered more definitively in later installments are Bertrand Blier’s 1983 romantic comedy My Best Friend’s Girl, with a score by JJ Cale (?!), the great Louis Jouvet in Henri Decoin’s heart-wrenching 1948 melodrama Amoureux Sont Seuls Au Monde, director (and master glass artist) Andre Hunebelle’s pair of hugely successful swashbucklers The Three Musketeers & Le Capitan, and two excellent crime dramas by Jacques Deray: Symphony For A Massacre (1963) and Le Gang (1977.)
As a reminder, these are all in a special section across from the new releases, and all rent for a week. We hope you enjoy watching these as much as we enjoy bringing them to you. Special thanks to an anonymous patron for making this possible.