Just before he departs for his military service in Algeria, the son of a village baker has a clandestine affair with the daughter of the grocery shop. Ten months later, the daughter, Françoise, returns to the village after a stay in Italy, with a newborn baby. Outraged, Françoise’s mother takes the baby and thrusts it into the face of the baker, Félicien, insisting that his son is the father. Félicien furiously denies this, convinced that no son of his could commit such a folly. Within a few days, the peace of the little village is shattered as its inhabitants turn on each other, siding either with the baker or the grocer. When the baker refuses to deliver bread to his opponents, the grocer’s supporters decide to blockade his supply of flour…. —Filmsdefrance.com
Director Henri Verneuil was born Achod Malakian of Armenian parentage on October 15, 1920, in Rodosto, Turkey, and his family fled to France and settled in Marseilles when he was a young child. He later recounted his childhood experience in the novel Mayrig, which he dedicated to his mother and made into a 1991 film with the same name, which was followed by a sequel, 588 Rue Paradis, the following year.
Verneuil enrolled in 1943 at the Ecole Navale des Arts et Métiers at Aix-en-Provence, where he studied engineering. He then pursued a career in journalism, working as the editor-in-chief of the magazine Horizon in 1944-1946 and as a film critic for a Marseilles radio station. In 1947, he had an idea for a short film set in Marseilles and proposed it to the famous comedian Fernandel. The comic liked it, and thus began a long-lasting partnership which produced such popular film hits as Forbidden Fruit, The Sheep Has Five Legs, and The Cow and I read more