Le Jour Se Leve (Daybreak) (1939)

MARCEL CARNE

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBBFrance, 1939.  Original scenario by , dialogue by .  Cinematography by , , .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

A shot is heard, a man stumbles out an apartment door and falls dead down a flight of stairs; the neighbours are upset, the police arrive and pretty soon the building is surrounded while the man we presume is the killer () holes up in his room and recalls the days that led to the crime.  We flash back to when he first encounters a beautiful young woman and falls madly in love with her, their romance taking him away from his usual good time gal (), but trouble arrives when a shady father figure manages to convince his lady love to accept his patronage.  Beautifully shot by Marcel Carne, this romantic, surprisingly sexy film hasn’t been fully served by time (I can see why it was a big deal then and I can see why it’s less of one now), but it still looks great and the cast is fantastic.  The framing narrative, having the majority of the action take place in a flashback, was so innovative for its time that the terrified producers made sure that a title card was projected before the beginning to explain what the audience was about to see.

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