Three generations of French film charisma come together in this marvelous film about a family of French Canadians living in Ottawa (not Quebec!). Charles Boyer, in one of his earliest “character” roles after decades of being a leading-man lover, joins the up-and-coming Louis Jourdan and the old theatrical hand Marcel Dalio to make up the Bonnard family: Grandpere (Dalio) lives with Jacques (Boyer), his wife Susan (Hunt), and their son, Bibi (Driscoll). Jacques’ bibulous, layabout brother Louis (Kasznar) lives across the street, with his shrewish, seamstress wife Felice and their possibly unmarriageable daughter. Desmonde, the third brother, is a traveling salesman with a rakish reputation — not unlike his father — who stays with Jacques’ family when he’s in Ottawa and who is a hero in the eyes of Bibi.
The story itself is small: Desmond comes to stay; Jacques, who plays violin and conducts the orchestra in a small burlesque and movie house, brings a sacked magician’s assistant home to be the new maid; Louis storms out of his home and moves in on Jacques’ porch; Grandpere falls ill; and Bibi deals with troubles at school and in the heart. But the writing and characterization are so true to life and moving that one gets utterly caught up. —IMDb
The son of famed animator Max Fleischer (Popeye, Betty Boop et. al.), Richard O. Fleischer was a psychology student at Brown University when he dropped out in favor of the Yale Drama Department. At age 21, Fleischer organized a campus theatrical troupe called the Arena Players. In 1942, he went to work for RKO-Pathe in New York, editing the company’s weekly newsreels before producing and directing his own short-subject projects, including the March of Time-like This is America and a series of gagged-up silent-film vignettes titled Flicker Flashbacks. In 1946, he headed to Hollywood, there to direct feature films for Pathe’s parent studio, RKO Radio; his last short-subject effort was the Oscar-winning Design for Death (1948). At first limited to “B” pictures, Fleischer gained a loyal critical following with such topnotch films as Follow Me Quietly (1949) and The Narrow Margin (1952).
Perhaps sensing that RKO was on its last legs, Fleischer moved on to MGM, then to Walt Disney… read more