Gabin’s second film during his short, unhappy stay in Hollywood was this intriguing drama about a criminal who escapes from the hangman and takes on the name of a dead French soldier. Under his new identity, the scoundrel becomes a hero. Gabin’s fellow Hollywood exile Julien Duvivier gives The Impostor some of the moodiness and melancholy atmosphere of his classic poetic realist work from the 30s (including Pépé le Moko), aided in no small measure by his star. Music by the thunderously prolific Dimitri Tiomkin. —Film Society of Lincoln Center
Born in Lille in 1896, Julien Duvivier was a stage actor and then production assistant on André Antoine’s films before starting as a director in 1919. His prolific career – over 60 films – only ended on his death in 1967. After twenty or so silent movies inspired from many different sources, he attained international recognition in the 1930′s with movies which have become classics of “poetic realism”, notably the sound remake of Poil de carotte (1932), La Belle équipe (1936) and Pépé le Moko (1937).
After exile in Hollywood during the war, he returned to France in 1946 but failed to regain his former critical standing, despite such remarkable films as Panique (1947), Voici le temps des assassins (1956) and Pot Bouille (1957). He enjoyed international succes with The Little World of Don Camillo (1951). —Octuor de France