First show: May 15
Seven Rarities Celebrating the Birthday of France’s Immortal Cinema Icon
Jean Gabin (1904-1976) remains the greatest icon in French film history. It would be his 118th birthday on May 17th, and Midcentury Productions‘ Don Malcolm invites you to celebrate that fact with yet another of his extravaganzas of rarely-seen titles from the Great One’s copious filmography.
With a dozen rare Gabin films already screened at his landmark FRENCH HAD A NAME FOR IT series (which returns in November!), Don has flipped the script for this birthday bash to cast as wide a net as possible in the Gabin oeuvre. His matchless chemistry with a series of luminous leading ladies is at the center of this seven-film celebration.
ZOU ZOU + LADYKILLER + MOONTIDE
⊞ 12:30 pm: ZOU ZOU ⊞ 2:15 pm: LADYKILLER ⊞ 4 pm: MOONTIDE
Things kick off with a wide-ranging matinee triple bill. First, see Gabin with the legendary African-American expatriate actress Josephine Baker in ZOU ZOU (1934, dir. Marc Allegret). It’s a spicy, sexy musical with a murder; can Baker rescue Gabin from a bad rap?
Next, Gabin is re-teamed with his PEPE LE MOKO co-star Mireille Balin in LADYKILLER / GUEULE D’AMOUR (1937, dir. Jean Gremillon), where Gabin discovers that his “way with women” is not quite as foolproof as he thinks!
The triple bill concludes with a fascinating look at Gabin’s brief stay in Hollywood with MOONTIDE (1942, dir. Archie Mayo, with an uncredited Fritz Lang), an atmospheric tale that pairs him with Ida Lupino. Once again intimations of murder add complications for Gabin, who plays a knockabout who wants nothing more than to settle down with the woman he loves. You’ll revel in Charles Clarke’s cinematography, which evokes the work of John Alton…before there was a John Alton!
STORMY WATERS + PEOPLE OF NO IMPORTANCE
⊞ 6:45 pm: STORMY WATERS ⊞ 8:30 pm: PEOPLE OF NO IMPORTANCE
Don Malcolm’s take on the Sunday evening program: “possibly the best double bill I’ve ever programmed.” In each film, Gabin is a married man tempted by affairs with younger women. In STORMY WATERS / REMORQUES (1941, France, dir. Jean Gremillon) he is a sea captain whose marriage becomes complicated when he finds himself drawn to Michèle Morgan.
In PEOPLE OF NO IMPORTANCE / LES GENS SANS IMPORTANCE (1956, dir. Henri Verneuil), he’s a trucker who falls in love with a beautiful but disillusioned young woman (a superb performance from Françoise Arnoul). Things get really complicated when she arrives in Paris with some startling news! It’s a 1-2 film combination that lingers in the mind for a long, long time.
THE ROOM UPSTAIRS + THE COUNTERFEITERS OF PARIS
⊞ 7 pm: THE ROOM UPSTAIRS ⊞ 9 pm: THE COUNTERFEITERS OF PARIS
THE ROOM UPSTAIRS / MARTIN ROUMAGNAC (1946, France, dir. Georges Lacombe) unites two real-life lovers with equally incomparable star power: Gabin and Marlene Dietrich. The two met in Hollywood during World War II and fell in love, but there was always an edge to their relationship that threatened its long-term viability. The film captures the tension in their ultimately doomed love and memorializes it for us, while also kicking off the riskiest phase of Gabin’s career—the post-WWII years where his fans seemed at odds with the roles he picked.
THE COUNTERFEITERS OF PARIS / LE CAVE SE REBIFFE (1961, France, dir. Gilles Grangier) concludes our celebration on a lighter note with a crackerjack crime comedy. Gabin is a criminal mastermind lured out of retirement to lead “one more caper” — only to discover that his partners in crime are hopelessly incompetent! Acclaimed screenwriter Michel Audiard gives Gabin and his co-stars (Bernard Blier, Martine Carol, Ginette Leclerc) some wonderfully acerbic lines as they careen through a caper that’s always on the brink of collapse!
Don’t miss this chance to immerse yourself in these rarities as Don Malcolm provides you with a superb opportunity to “brush up your Gabin!”—it’s a birthday celebration that keeps on giving!
✧ SPECIAL 2-DAY PASS FOR $33 available at the Box Office.
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GABIN 118: Upcoming Showtimes