Made partly while Grémillon was working at the UFA Studios in Berlin, this adaptation of a novel by André Boucler features the young Jean Gabin as a foreign-legion Casanova – the “lady killer” Lucien Bourrache – who meets his match in the mysterious seductress Madeleine (Mireille Balin). Love strikes for real this time for Lucien, but the sincerity of his lover’s affection remains unpredictably in doubt. Eschewing romanticism and melodramatic conventions for a sober and realistic treatment, Grémillon creates a carefully nuanced aura of suspense that culminates in the film’s tragic dénouement. The sizzling electricity between Gabin and Balin made Gueule d’amour a rare popular success for the director. —Film Society of Lincoln Center
Jean Grémillon (3 October 1901, Bayeux, Calvados – 25 November 1959) was a French film director. After directing a number of documentaries during the 1920s, many now lost, he had his first substantial success with the dramatic feature Maldone in 1928. Over the next quarter-century, he directed twenty more feature films, of which he is best known for five made between 1937 and 1944: L’Étrange M. Victor, Gueule d’amour (1937), Remorques (1941), Lumière d’été (1943), and Le Ciel est à vous (1944).
Grémillon rejected what he referred to as “mechanical naturalism” in favor of “the discovery of that subtlety which the human eye does not perceive directly but which must be shown by establishing the harmonies, the unknown relations, between objects and beings; it is a vivifying, inexhaustible source of images that strike our imaginations and enchant our hearts.” —Wikipedia
Jean Grémillon stages a murder on an elegant ocean liner, but the mystery is not the murder: it’s everything.
An early sound film full of experimentation and expressionism.