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: http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/webpages4/filmnotes/fns07n2.html
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: http://hopelies.com/2011/04/19/encapsulating-the-human-condition-la-bete-humaine/
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.