Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Jason goes to Noir City--Day 9

I had a birthday party I had to run off to later on Saturday, but there's no way I could let the International Edition of Noir City go by without catching at least a little bit of the French flavor.

PÉPÉ LE MOKO (1937): So our Noir City trip to France didn't actually start out in France. It started in Algiers. In particular, it started in the Casbah. That's where gangster Pépé le Moko (Jean Gabin) is hiding out, and a labyrinth so intense, isolated, and dangerous the authorities dare not go in. But in a way the Casbah becomes his own prison--he is free from prosecution, but not free to leave. Inspector Slimane (Lucas Gridoux) is intent on drawing him out. And when pretty little Gaby (Mireille Balin) shows up, he has a chance. Pépé, like all great villains--like all great noir male characters, good or bad--has a weakness for the ladies. Great acting and an exciting plot, but most of all a glimpse into a strange, exotic, intoxicating, and dangerous world make this a great adventure.

JENNY LAMOUR (Quai Des Orfèvres) (1947): The French title doesn't exactly translate, it's essentially Paris' version of Scotland Yard. So for the American title they just used the (stage) name of the female lead, played by the lovely Suzy Delair. She's a dance hall entertainer, wildly ambitious but not so ambitious that she would cheat on her husband Maurice (Bernard Blier) to get ahead. That's true even though the rich pervert Brignon (Charles Dullin) couldn't certainly advance her career in exchange for...companionship. Well Maurice isn't so naive, and tells Brignon off in no uncertain terms, even threatening to kill him. Which makes it all very awkward when Jenny goes off to make nice with Brignon (he can, after all, help her career.) Especially awkward when Maurice goes to kill Brignon (making sure he has an elaborate alibi) only to find Brignon already dead. A sarcastic but brilliant inspector Antoine (Louis Jouvet) is hot on his trail, and things are looking pretty bleak for Maurice...or Jenny...or both. Classic noir story, with some solid acting, some fun musical performances, and of course a surprise twist in the end.

And that's all I could do of Saturday. I was back for one final day on Sunday.

Total Running Time: 200 minutes
My Total Minutes: 349,330

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