Jean Gabin

Jean Gabin

The BFI are hosting a Jean Gabin season this month – don’t miss it. If, however, you do miss it, or you can’t afford the £10 entry fee, then swing by our Classic French Cinema section and stroke your eyes over some of the following beauties. If your knowledge of classic cinema has been shaped by Hollywood, then you’re in for a real surprise and a treat; whilst Hollywood from the mid-thirties onwards was operating under the stringent Hays Code, which meant anything the Catholic Church demeed to be immoral could not be shown (including husband and wife sleeping in the same bed!), Europe had no such code, and French cinema from the same period appears remarkably fresh, liberal and deliciously immoral in comparison. Enjoy.

Le Quai des Brumes (1938) Directed by Marcel Carne – in a port, thick with heavy fog, love springs up between Jean, the deserter and Nelly, the 17-year old runaway.


La Grande Illusion (1937) Directed by Jean Renoir – allied prisoners of war attempt to escape from a seemingly impenetrable German fortress. Some notes on the film from the New York State Writers’ Institute:


La Bete Humaine (1938) Directed by Jean Renoir – a tale of murder, lust and adultery amongst employees of a railway. An article by Hope Lies at 24 Frames Per Second:


Le Jeur se Leve (1939) Directed by Marcel Carne – a man who has committed the murder of his rival in the affections of two women, locks himself in his hotel room, whilst the police try to smoke him out. Whilst locked in, he recollects the events that led him to kill.

Queen of the Quotables: Great Quotes No.1

“I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.”

The Utterly Pre-Code Mae West

The first time you see a Mae West film, you’ll probably feel like you’re watching a parody of, well, a Mae West film. Her style was so influential that it has almost passed into kitsch cliché – the rolling eyes, the heavy eye-lids, the pout, the man-hungry look in her eye, the walk that’s half temptress, half arthritic gun-slinger – think Jayne Mansfield meets John Wayne. All her dialogue (often written by West herself) pretty much consists of snappy one-liners. She ran into some trouble when the Hays Code was introduced into Hollywood, when many films fell victim to ruthless censorship, but, of course she worked around that. There’s truly never been anyone else quite like her. Have a look at:

She Done Him Wrong (1933)

My Little Chickadee (1940)

**Mae West Boxset Available To Buy In Store**

Box includes: She Done Him Wrong, My Little Chickadee, Belle of the Nineties, I’m No Angel, Klondike Annie, Heat is On