Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
France, 1937. Paris Film. Scenario by Henri La Barthe, Julien Duvivier, adaptation by Jacques Constant, dialogue by Henri Jeanson, based on the novel by Henri La Barthe. Cinematography by Marc Fossard, Jules Kruger. Produced by Raymond Hakim, Robert Hakim. Music by Vincent Scotto, Mohamed Ygerbuchen. Production Design by Jacques Krauss. Film Editing by Marguerite Beauge.
Think of it as the inspiration for Casablanca. Jean Gabin is the coolest guy on the planet as the title character, a shady underworld leader who hides out in the Moroccan Casbah, avoiding the authorities and determined to never be caught. Protected by a network of fellow gangsters and local friends, his paranoia is seriously threatened when he falls in love with a society dame who normally would only lose her diamonds to him, not her whole heart. Julien Duvivier’s directorial style, which includes seamless editing and starry-eyed photography, is excellent, but the story leaves a lot to be desired: most of the film feels like it’s sitting around waiting for a plot until it gets some motivation in its last third. Still, it is considered a classic by many critics, and if you get a chance to see the beautiful restored print that has been going around lately thanks to the Rialto company’s work, you’ll clearly see why.
The Criterion Collection: #172