Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5
Original title: Mauvaise Graine
France, 1934. Compagnie Nouvelle Commerciale. Screenplay by Max Kolpe, Jan Lustig, Billy Wilder, dialogue by Claude-Andre Puget. Cinematography by Paul Cotteret, Maurice Delattre, Fred Mandl. Produced by Georges Bernier. Music by Allan Gray, Franz Waxman. Film Editing by Therese Sautereau.
Billy Wilder made his directorial debut in France before escaping Nazi power and heading to Hollywood. He shows talent as a filmmaker from the start in a charming story he co-helmed with Alexander Esway that also features an early appearance by a seventeen year-old Danielle Darrieux. She plays the sole female member of a gang of car thieves who get one more added to their number when a spoiled playboy takes back the car his father sold out from under him.
Hoping to teach the young man some responsibility and announcing he will no longer support him, his father is naturally disappointed that, instead, his son ends up a part of a criminal enterprise who eventually get the police on their tail. Light-hearted and charismatic, the film shows off aspects of Wilder’s storytelling we would come to see in much more accomplished films later on, especially the richness of the characters and the clarity of the story that is never muddled by the primitive early thirties technology.