Sunday 30 August 2015

The Duvivier Dossier (13) - Reports from enthusiasts

David Young writes: Thanks for including me in Geoff's Julien Duvivier quest. I am not as familiar with his work as some of the other respondees (I should be; we share the same birthdate, although he was 53 when I was born...).

I really like Pepe le Moko (1937) and parts of Tales of Manhattan (1942), the Edward G Robinson and the Charles Laughton sequences particularly. I think I may have seen Poil de carotte (1932) at the WEA film group years ago but I don't remember anything about it.

The one I would really like to see is David Golder (1931). It was from the novel by Irene Nemirovsky,who apparently co-scripted it with Duvivier). Nemirovsky, sadly, lost her life in 1942 in a concentration camp following her arrest by French authorities and it wasn't until 60 years later that her uncompleted masterpiece Suite Francais was discovered by her daughter and subsequently published in 2006.

Richard Keys writes in response to a request for his favourites
Poil de Carotte (Red Head) (1932)is great, almost unbearably  sad.
Pepe Le Moko (1937) wonderful, Gabin perfect in the role.
Tales of Manhattan (1942) a mixed bag, the Edward G Robinson story good, the Paul Robeson one racist idiocy. No wonder Paul wanted that and the odious Sanders of  the River (1935) withdrawn!

Ken Wallin writes: On the Duvivier front, would you believe that I caught up with one on my wish list last week? It was the silent Poil de Carrotte (1925).  I had a copy and hadn't realized it. It confirms Duvivier's engagement with all the devices of French silents, for example when the father realises how 'Carrot Top' has been exploited and abused we see M. Lepic in the farmyard surrounded by five images of the boy slaving away. Nonetheless I prefer the sound version, (although I have only seen it at WEA (twice) some years back), because the performances are more affecting. Harry Baur was a great actor and I think the story is more tightly handled. The silent has a subplot involving the older brother and a 'bad' woman that I don't recall in the sound version.

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