1953, Pathé, 103 min, France/Mexico, Dir: Yves Allegret

Was director Yves Allegret “answering” Henri-Georges Clouzot with this film, where the setting is highly reminiscent of the oppressive atmosphere permeating THE WAGES OF FEAR? Here, however, there is no harrowing adventure tale at the dark center of the story - only the ravaged lives of two lost souls (Gérard Philipe, a doctor whose dalliance in a sweltering Mexican town has reduced him to a hopeless drunk; Michèle Morgan, a woman whose life hangs in the balance once her disreputable husband dies during the outset of a raging typhoid epidemic). What happens to these two is the crux of this powerful melo-noir that dares to take both of them to the brink of degradation, with only the barest chance of escape. Adapted by Jean Aurenche from a play by Jean-Paul Sartre.

1948, 86 min, France, Dir: Yves Allégret

Bursting through the echoes of “poetic realism” contained within its narrative, this underworld drama showcases the emergence of Simone Signoret, a hooker with a hankering for a better life. The original femme fatale, Signoret is both luminous and complex, presaging a series of follow-up performances in similarly themed films over the next half-decade. A trio of indelible actors (Marcelo Pagliero, Marcel Dalio, Bernard Blier) provides Dédée with ecstasy, agony and sympathy, respectively. In French with English subtitles.

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