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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Une Si Jolie Petite Plage (1949)

A mysterious young man (Gerard Philipe) arrives in a small seaside village during the off season when it constantly rains. He's there ostensibly for his health but he carries a dark secret within him. Directed by Yves Allegret, this is a beautifully crafted piece of pessimistic cinema. What in the 1930s was referred to as poetic realism although with its oppressive and shadowy B&W mise en scene, if any film has a right to be called film noir, it's this one. Henri Alekan's (Cocteau's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST) stunning imagery makes this one of the best looking B&W films I've seen. The great Gerard Philipe with his melancholy eyes and expressive body language brings layers of untold complexity by his very presence. Allegret's film subtly lets us peek into the psychology of a victim of abuse as he confronts his past and realizes the freedom he thought he finally gained was merely illusion. This is a jewel of a film that really should have a wider audience. The excellent underscore is by Maurice Thiriet. With Madeleine Robinson, Jean Servais, Jane Marken and as the sullen 15 year old boy at a crucial crossroad, Christian Ferry in a superb performance. This was one of only 2 films he made as an actor. As an adult, he would turn to producing films like THE BLUE MAX and the 1976 KING KONG.

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