Before starting his rest-cure, Don was quoted as saying that his personal favorite in the series was the exceptionally rare Gibier de Potence aka Gigolo, a very dark melodrama from 1951. “It’s a brutally frank look at male prostitution, with the great Arletty giving an incredible performance as a sphinx-like madam,” he enthused. “There’s no way I’d miss it on the Roxie screen…even if they actually have to wheel me into the theater!”
FRENCH 4 is the most wide-ranging edition of this landmark festival to date, so follow Don’s lead and wheel yourself to the Roxie for 13 more superb rediscoveries from “the lost continent” of classic French film noir.
Jeanne Moreau in The Strange Mister Steve on Monday, Nov 6
Friday, Nov 3 – Caution: Lemmy! The Return of Eddie Constantine
THIS MAN IS DANGEROUS /CET HOMME EST DANGEREUX 6:00 PM
(Jean Sacha, 1953) 93 min
LUCKY JO 7:45 PM
(Michel Deville, 1964) 90 min
Remembered (if at all) for his ironic turn as Lemmy Caution in Alphaville (1965), Eddie Constantine has a life story at least as strange as Godard’s film. This Man Is Dangerous (1953) is quintessential Lemmy Caution, whose name belies his perpetual grin and reckless abandon. It’s noir as cartoon surrealism, with Lemmy leading the way toward the delirium and sexual innuendo of the James Bond films.
Lucky Jo (1964) is the flip side of Constantine’s persona, a sad sack of a petty criminal who tries to channel the same fortunate bravado that shores up Lemmy, but does so with little or no success. Director Michel Deville surrounds Constantine with first-rate acting support (Pierre Brasseur, Françoise Arnoul, Georges Wilson) in a bittersweet send-up of Franco-American gangster pictures.
*Specially-priced single screening of This Man Is Dangerous at 9:30 $8 ($6 for Roxie members) Festival pass holders can choose to arrive at either 6:00 or 7:45.
Saturday Matinée, Nov 4 – On A Roll: Early Chabrol
THE HANDSOME SERGE / LE BEAU SERGE 1:30 PM
(Claude Chabrol, 1958) 98 min
THE GOOD-TIME GIRLS / LES BONNES FEMMES 3:20 PM
(Claude Chabrol, 1960) 100 min
Before he became the “French Hitchcock,” Claude Chabrol was a cinematic rebel—and these two early films reveal his roots in noir and neo-realism. Despite diametrically opposed settings, both films depict the troubled lives of alienated youth, proving that people are irresistibly attracted to the dark side whether they live in Paris or in the provinces.
Saturday Evening, Nov 4 – Gabin in the 50s—Digging Deeper
HI-JACK HIGHWAY / GAS-OIL 6:00 PM
Gilles Grangier, 1955) 92 mins Featuring Jeanne Moreau
THE NIGHT AFFAIR / LE DÉSORDRE DANS LA NUIT 7:45 PM
(Gilles Grangier, 1958) 93 min
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT / CRIME ET CHÂTIMENT 9:30 PM
(Georges Lampin, 1956) 107 min Featuring Robert Hossein
Jean Gabin reclaimed his superstardom in the mid-50s, but viewers have yet to catch up with the films he made in this period—many of them made in collaboration with director Gilles Grangier (they would make a total of twelve films together). It became clear that, as he aged, his unique brand of heroism transcended tragedy: he was just as riveting when cast as a cop (as is the case here twice…) as when playing a doomed, charismatic crook. Festival favorite Robert Hossein is the featured lead in Crime and Punishment, where he has many fine scenes with Gabin…as cop and killer engage in an intense game of cat and mouse.
Sunday Matinée, Nov 5 – C’est la guerre: homme v. femme
HAPPINESS / LE BONHEUR 2:00 PM
(Marcel L’Herbier, 1935) 98 mins
HATRED / MOLLENARD 4:00 PM
(Robert Siodmak, 1938) 106 mins
Two dark melodramas from the 1930s highlight the increasingly pitched battle of the sexes in French cinema in contrasting stories. The first (Happiness) chronicles a most unlikely love affair that blooms after the man (Charles Boyer) tries to murder the woman (Gaby Morlay); the second (Hatred), a showcase for unlikely 30s superstar Harry Baur, chronicles how a man’s life (indeed, his entire being…) can be torn apart by festering family wounds.
Sunday Evening, Nov 5 – Arletty and Casares on the Other Side of Paradise
THE LADIES OF BOULOGNE WOOD / LES DAMES DU BOIS DE BOULOGNE 7:15 PM
(Robert Bresson, 1945) 86 mins
GIGOLO / GIBIER DE POTENCE 9:00
(Roger Richebé, 1951) 106 mins
The gender wars continue apace with two Sphinx-like performances from acting legends Arletty and Maria Casares (who co-starred in Marcel Carné’s classic Children of Paradise). Both attempt to exert strange control over the men in their lives, with astonishing results. The exceptionally rare Gigolo, directed by the lightly-regarded Roger Richebé and featuring an anguished performance from Georges Marchal, will emerge as one of the most important rediscoveries in the entire FRENCH HAD A NAME FOR IT series.
Monday, Nov 6 – Hommage to Jeanne Moreau
THE STRANGE MR. STEVE / L’ÉTRANGE MONSIEUR STEVE 7:15 PM
(Raymond Bailly, 1957) 90 mins
MADEMOISELLE 9:00 PM
(Tony Richardson, 1966) 105 mins
Jeanne Moreau’s apprenticeship in French film prior to the advent of the Nouvelle Vague continues to be ignored by critics still in the thrall of Godard and Truffaut. Case in point: in the wake of her recent passing, repertory houses have all played the same films to honor her. We break out of that groupthink with a program tracing the range of her man-eating talents, from subtle (as the mercurial mistress of a smooth-talking gangster who creates havoc by falling in love with his intended patsy) to primal (as the deranged schoolteacher who unleashes chaos and tragedy in an unsuspecting French village). Moreau is dead…long live Moreau!
→ Festival pass $55 until October 23, $65 thereafter. (Those who join the MCP mailing list may still purchase passes at the early-bird price until Opening Night.)
All double features $14 ($12 for Roxie members). Matinées are $12 ($10 for Roxie members).
Calling French Noir “Late Birds”…
Are you one who’s fascinated with the late-night ambience of a movie theatre? And might you just not have the time to join us at the Roxie for the entire FRENCH HAD A NAME FOR IT 4 festival this time, but want a different and more economical way to see a subset of this year’s lineup? If your answer to these questions is “yes,” then our first-ever “Late-Bird” mini-festival pass is the answer. For a special rate of $25, you’ll get to see all four of our films that screen at 9pm or later. It’s a nice slice of the festival lineup:
FRI, NOV 3 9:30 PM screening of This Man Is Dangerous
SAT, NOV 4 9:30 PM screening of Crime and Punishment
SUN, NOV 5 9:00 PM screening of Gigolo
MON, NOV 6 9:00 PM screening of Mademoiselle
It’s a great way to sample the riches of the fourth annual French noir extravaganza. But hurry, this an extremely limited offer due to the tight seat count at the Roxie, so act now to secure your place at the party. You will receive a special pass, and there will be a special “swag” drawing for you separate from the other attendees! So if you can’t be with us for all of the films, here’s a great way to be part of the action. After all, better “late” than never! → GET A LATE BIRD PASS