THE NIGHT AFFAIR
LE DESORDRE ET LA NUIT
1958, Pathé, 93 min, France, Dir: Gilles Grangier

Jean Gabin’s association with director Gilles Grangier reaches its peak in this brooding crime drama set in the underbelly of Parisian nightlife. He’s an inspector investigating the murder of a shady nightclub owner who, in the midst of the case, finds himself becoming involved with the comely young witness (Nadja Tiller), who turns out to be a drug addict - and who’s privy to the behind-the-scenes dirt between the owner and his mysterious wife (Danielle Darrieux).


THE TRUTH OF OUR MARRIAGE
LA VERITÉ SUR BÉBÉ DONGE
1952, Gaumont, 110 min, Dir: Henri Decoin

Jean Gabin after World War II became a much different figure in French cinema, more paternal than proletarian. His role in BÉBÉ DONGE, Decoin’s very dark melodrama about a marriage that has literally gone toxic, is one of his least likable roles - but is among his most fascinating performances. His delirious ruminations while lying flat on his back in a hospital bed as he attempts to recover from being poisoned by his wife (played with hauntingly cold precision by Danielle Darrieux) show us just how wrong things can go between man and wife. In French with English subtitles.


THE YOUNG GIRLS OF ROCHEFORT
LES DEMOISELLES DE ROCHEFORT
1967, Janus Films, 120 min, France, Dir: Jacques Demy

Director Jacques Demy's love letter to American musicals, French cityscapes and romance in general is one of his greatest triumphs. The movie tells intersecting stories of a number of young dreamers - among them Catherine Deneuve, Francoise Dorleac and Danielle Darrieux - who continually miss meeting their ideal mates by mere city blocks - city blocks that are all authentic, as Demy matches realistic location shooting with sheer flights of musical fantasy. This odd but satisfying hybrid of dreams and reality is enhanced by Michel Legrand's score and Demy's typically precise color palette. With Gene Kelly and George Chakiris. In French with English subtitles.


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