Down a foggy, desolate road to the port city of Le Havre travels Jean (Jean Gabin), an army deserter looking for another chance to make good on life. Fate, however, has a different plan for him, as acts of both revenge and kindness render him front-page news. Also starring the blue-eyed phenomenon Michèle Morgan in her first major role, and the menacing Michel Simon, Port of Shadows (Le Quai des brumes) starkly portrays an underworld of lonely souls wrestling with their own destinies. Based on the novel by Pierre Mac Orlan, the inimitable team of director Marcel Carné and writer Jacques Prévert deliver a quintessential example of poetic realism and a classic film from the golden age of French cinema. —The Criterion Collection
Between 1936 and 1946, Marcel Carné was among the chief proponents of poetic realism, a studio-bound film style that combined theatrical themes with elaborate dialogues which depicted ordinary people attempting to contend with the unalterable nature of destiny. The shadowy fatalism of poetic realism presaged the more popular American film noir. Though the style was created by Jacques Feyder, with whom Carné apprenticed, it was Carné and poet/screenwriter Jacques Prévert who brought it to its full fruition with Enfants du Paradise (Children of Paradise) (1945), a work still considered one of France’s greatest films. Born and raised in Montmarte, Carné was originally slated to work for an insurance agency by his father, a cabinetmaker. Carné, however, was more interested in movies and secretly attended evening classes on cinematography with the Paris city council-sponsored Association Philomantique. Without telling his father, Carné left the agency in 1928 to work as an assistant cameraman… read more
with flowing repetitious soundtrack, fluid dreamlike atmosphere of doom and brumes dans la tête it's the perfect double bill with tarr's man from london / two last frames are amazing (leaving ship and stray dog) / prévert + schüfftan / the idea of finding a master has a pleasant connection to PTA's post-war "foggy" sensibilities
The setting for Carné's masterpiece, the pinnacle of poetic realism, is the foggy port of Le Havre where we find a penniless and hungry Jean. He is a deserter from the army and looking for passage abroad. He meets a kindred spirit in Nelly, a beautiful young orphan clad in black beret and shiny raincoat. Gabin and Morgan give iconic performances in a beautiful film, drenched in atmosphere and a sense of foreboding...
Above: Alexandre Trauner's sketch for Canal Saint-Martin and Hotel (second building from right). Besides classical Hollywood, one of the other
Compton Bennett burst upon the British filmmaking scene in 1945 with The Seventh Veil, a weird, sado-masochistically-inflected semi-gothic
Deuxième oeuvre de Marcel Carné que j’ai l’occasion de découvrir après Hôtel du Nord. Deuxième grand classique du cinéma français signé par ce cinéaste. Au final, une réputation de très grand film… read review