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).
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My hero, Jean Gabin, is on the losing end of the stick again. Over a woman, of course. He's a hopeless romantic. Watching him get taken for a ride by the beautiful Mireille Balin is pure torture. This gem from one of the greatest names in pre-New Wave French Cinema, Jean Gremillon, is like a stab in the heart.
A film characterized by its constant genres mutation, starting as a popular comedy, in the realistic style of the 30's French cinema, to turn to a melodrama that becomes a tragedy and ends in a surprising and veiled declaration of love between two men, that through a complicity in the murder of a woman that betrayed them, discover in their definite separation the realization of a love greater than fiction.
Elegant, almost farcical comedy to begin with as Gabin as the Casanova becomes undone with a mysterious woman he falls desperately in love with. The film becomes darker as he discovers she is also seeing his best war-time friend, strangles her, and disappears to Africa. Exquisite sets, Ophulsian-tracks, and gorgeous close-ups of the main actors who imbue this film with emotional delicacy and passion.