One of France’s most respected directors of the postwar era, René Clément directed such searing psychological dramas as Forbidden Games and Purple Noon. And Gervaise, his vivid 1956 adaptation of Émile Zola’s 1877 masterpiece L’assommoir, is no exception. An uncompromising depiction of a lowly laundress’s struggles to deal with an alcoholic husband while running her own business, Gervaise was nominated for an Oscar, and the indomitable Maria Schell earned best actress honors at the Venice Film Festival. —The Criterion Collection
While an architecture student at Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Rene Clement painstakingly assembled the animated film Cesar les Galous. He made his live-action directorial debut in collaboration with Jacques Tati with the 1936 short Soigne ton Gauche. Clement spent the latter half of the 1930s filming documentaries in the French territories of Africa and Arabia. In 1937, he and archaeologist Jules Barthou were in Yemen preparing for the documentary short L’Arabie Interdite when they were captured, jailed and given death sentences. The two were freed and Clement returned to France with the film. In 1946, Clement acted as technical consultant on Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast (1946); this enabled him to finally direct a feature film on his own, the highly regarded “French resistance” melodrama La Bataille du rail, which blended the verisimilitude of Clement’s documentaries with the story-telling skills he’d gleaned from Cocteau. Though he’d begun his career with a cartoon and gained his… read more
I love this picture, it's heart breaking to see Maria play such a warm, touching woman that goes through a lot of bs. Also I though that the ending was very sad but very good, because in the end she becomes the very thing that has ruined her life. And you are left hoping that in the end everything will come out well. I loved the acting and story... a very beautiful picture that needs to be seen more often by people.
Also: The other Kurosawa, a forgotten “masterpiece” and the long, rather sad decline of Variety.