Faces from "The Other Side"
STRIKING ENCOUNTERS FROM OUR FIRST WEEKEND...
ALONG with the astonishing expansion in our sense of the true nature of “cinema de papa” film in France, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE LOST CONTINENT ‘23 will bring you a slew of new faces to ponder and enjoy. Some are young, some old—all are distinctive, and they reveal just how more there is for us to know about this neglected treasure trove.
What follows are just some of the folk you’ll meet in our first weekend (April 1-2-3), where ten films from the 1930s will play.
Jacques Dumesnil and Vera Korène are instrumental in instigating a bizarre revenge scenario in Louis Valray’s LA BELLE DE NUIT (1934), our opening film on Sunday, April 1st. Korène, a Russian emigré, was also a dedicated stage actress who would eventually become the director of Paris’ esteemed Théatre de la Renaissance.
Colette Darfeuil and Samson Fainsilber are louche and languid (or is that the other way around?) in Valray’s ESCALE (1935, aka THIRTEEN DAYS OF LOVE). A Romanian Jew, Fainsilber would spend WWII hidden in a remote area of France as he successfully eluded the Gestapo, while writing a treatise on acting that he’d put into practice in Paris after the war.
Yet another emigré from Romania, Jean Yonnel is already at the end of his rope as Russian expatriate director Fyodor Ozep’s AMOK (1934) begins. But that is just the start of his strange, obsessive, careening journey…
AND that’s just your first day on THE OTHER SIDE…Sunday April 2nd takes us further into the lost world of 30s French cinema.
The winsome Marie Glory finds herself in the maelstrom of the “steno pool” at a Parisian bank in DACTYLO (1931), where she’ll soon learn about the predatory practices of the males who hold the keys to the office. Glory would later hold her own against two monstres sacrés, Michel Simon and Jules Berry, in the giddy crime comedy LA MORT EN FUITE (1936), a film that’s on our list for the future…
Renée Saint-Cyr is pitch-perfect as the wayward princess in René Clair’s sly comedy LE DERNIER MILLIARDAIRE (1934, aka THE LAST BILLIONAIRE). We will see Saint-Cyr again in our second weekend, when she plays the title role in one of the Occupation era’s most remarkable films, MARIE-MARTINE (1943).
The great Max Ophuls, in his French phase as he moved from Germany to Hollywood, gives us one of his most charming works with LA TENDRE ENNEMIE (1936), where ghosts intervene in an effort to prevent a young girl from marrying a man she doesn’t love.
SUNDAY evening is devoted to Harry Baur, the true giant of French cinema in the 30s. We’ll cover his two films (CETTE VIEILLE CANAILLE and SAMSON) in greater detail in later posts.
For now, we’ll introduce you to Alice Field, Baur’s spirited co-star in CETTE VIELLE CANAILLE (1933, aka THE OLD SCOUNDREL). As you’ll see, she’s in quite a quandary, torn between the attentions of a rich oldster (Baur) and the dynamic young trapeze artist (Pierre Blanchar) she hankers for. This is an incredibly dynamic film from Anatole Litvak, yet another emigré passing through France on his way to Hollywood. Often leaden and lugubrious once he reached Tinseltown, Litvak (and his cameraman Curt Courant) will astonish you with this in-your-face experience.
We’ll save SAMSON (1936) for later, except to suggest (impishly, as ever!) that Baur—as always—gives a performance that (wait for it…) brings the house down.
MONDAY night (April 3rd) swirls us into the world of the ravishing young Danielle Darrieux, impossibly glamorous even in handcuffs. Two of her delightful, edgy comedies made with director Henri Decoin (at that time, also her husband)—RETOUR A L’AUBE (1938) and BATTEMENT DE COEUR (1940)—make it clear why Darrieux became such a massive box office attraction in France during the brief “Popular Front” era in the late 1930s.
HERE’s hoping that those of you receiving this preview who’ve yet to sign on for an all-festival pass will find the pictorial introduction above simply irresistible. If so, here’s the link for buying a pass ($99 for 18 films) via PayPal. (Passes are limited, so don’t delay.) The more we write about this series, the more excited it makes us, as we anticipate your response to these terrific films that open up a secret world hidden from us for far too long.
We’ll be back with a look at our second weekend early next week—a bientot!