Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1961. Warner Bros., Mansfield Productions. Screenplay by Julius J. Epstein, based on the play by S.N. Behrman, Joshua Logan, from the Marseilles trilogy by Marcel Pagnol. Cinematography by Jack Cardiff. Produced by Joshua Logan. Music by Harold Rome. Production Design by Rino Mondellini. Costume Design by Anne-Marie Marchand. Film Editing by William Reynolds. Academy Awards 1961. Golden Globe Awards 1961. National Board of Review Awards 1961.
Marcel Pagnol’s touching stories, previously filmed as a trilogy in France in the 1930s, were transformed into a hit Broadway musical in the fifties. When the production reached the big screen, all the songs had been excised and left as background music, but the story itself was still just as delightful as ever before. Leslie Caron is wonderful as the title character, a seaside fish-seller in Marseilles who loves idealistic Horst Buchholz but loses him to his lust for adventure on the high seas. Trouble comes when she finds out that she is carrying his child after he has set sail, leaving her no choice but to marry a local merchant (Maurice Chevalier) whom she does not love in order to uphold the respectability of her father (a spirited Charles Boyer). Her lover returns and things get messy, but the candy-coloured photography is beautiful, the romance is sweet, and though there are no songs it strangely feels like a musical all the same.