Friday 17 January 2020

A new Film a Day (7) – A CAUSE, A CAUSE D’UNE FEMME (Michel Deville, France, 1962)

Michel Deville was a director who started to direct his own movies around the time of the French New Wave. His first films, starting in 1958, had some of the same stars/actors that featured in  movies by the ‘official’ New Wave directors – the Cahiers group, the Left Bank directors Resnais, Varda, Demy, and the likes of Jacques Rozier, Jean Rouch and so on. I know, I know… But Deville, who began as an assistant in the early 50s, graduated to features much in the manner of Philippe De Broca. He made saucy films about young people with gorgeous young women (here it’s Marie Laforet, Juliet Mayniel, Mylene Demongeot, Odile Versois and Jill Haworth) and lots of fast-moving sexual intrigue. Deville’s biggest hit was the 1968 Benjamina sexy costume drama starring the young Pierre Clementi and scripted by Deville’s regular collaborator Nina Companeez. Deville’s career arc was similar to De Broca’s, graduating to bigger budget movies like Dossier 51  and Eaux Profondes/Deep Water (1981, Melbourne Film Festival, 1982).

Á cause, á cause d’une femme tries very hard to look like a New Wave movie. Black and white photography, lots of location shooting in the fancy parts of Paris and, as I said once already, gorgeous young women, a handsome leading man (Jacques Charrier, and another, German actor Helmut Griem, in a sympathetic secondary role). It starts with Charrier as Remi Fertet, leaving his current flame, being accosted by another flame before he has left the property and heading for the arms of another. After hooking up with her they head off for a drive in the country whereupon he’s promptly arrested for murder. He escapes police clutches and spends the rest of the movie in the arms of ever more women until he manages to prove his innocence. (Ooops. Spoiler Alert should have been inserted before that sentence.)

Charrier’s character is a lounge lizard and a creep but the women who fall for him seem to be somewhat accepting of these character traits. Oh well, this was the sixties where Mr Smooth alpha male heart throbs were all the rage in French movies. Jill Haworth explains her presence by saying she’s Scottish, in love with a German music producer (Griem) visiting Paris and staying at the Prince of Wales Hotel, and the only language they can communicate in is French. She’s gorgeous as are Laforet, Mayniel, Demongeot and Versois. But I said that already. 

One interesting credit. Pierre Rissient is credited as “Assistant Director”.

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