My Gleanings

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Thumnbails May '57 Cahiers du Cinema

These three thumbnail critiques are translated from the May 1957 "Situation of French Cinema" issue of Cahiers du Cinema.

Pierre Prévert:
Jacques Prévert's younger brother, a director who sometimes collaborated with his older brother. Most of the directors considered by Cahiers in that 1957 issue had been active in since 1954. Pierre Prévert had not directed a feature film since 1947 and was the longest inactive director for Cahiers to consider.

"Has played an important role in the career of his brother and thus in the evolution of French cinema. Should also have been the point-man for a new comic cinema, a promise of all his films. The failure of Voyage-surprise marked an ending, although this charming, poetic and awkward film should have been a starting point." page 62

Alex Joffé
Alex Joffé was a successful French director of the 1950s whose advice François Truffaut sought out early in his career. Joffé appears early in "Shoot the Piano Player" as the passer-by who helps Chico (Albert Rémy) up when he runs into the pole. It is sometimes said that Truffaut especially wanted Joffé to play the part because Joffé physically resembled Jean Renoir.

"Joffé is at once a poet and a realist. His work is based principally on two theories, change of scenery (a Paris bus in the middle of the boondocks, a villager alone in Paris) and the case of conscience in professional wrongdoing (Lettre ouverte and Les Assassins du dimanche). His subjects brush up against melodrama but are farces. The greatest reproach which one can make of him is of being poorly aware of the art of ellipse so dear to Lubitsch. But in the final account Joffé is a Max Sennett as seen by Labiche." page 58

Marcel L'Herbier:
Marcel L'Herbier is one of France's legendary avant-garde directors of the silent era who did not fare well in the sound era. He is also remembered for his founding of the Film school IDHEC which is now known as FEMIS.

"Dedicated his life to the seventh art. The place which he holds today owes more, undoubtedly, to his many activities on behalf of film than to his bountiful cinematic work which belong to the past. Worried about vulgarizing "the intelligence of film" especially among the young who are precisely those who are ignorant of his work - apart maybe from L'Honorable Catherine -, he has travelled a long itinerary, beginning in the avant-garde (Villa Destin, Don Juan et Faust, L'Inhumaine) which merits better than find termination in Les Derniers jours de Pompei or Le Père de mademoiselle. But he has some projects for television where he does not lose hope of finding again the "innocence of El Dorado"." page 60

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