Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

2 more French rarities

LES SOEURS BRONTE – A 1979 French film I had been looking forward to seeing one day, as it never played in the UK, and one can see why now. Despite being about the Bronte sisters, and their brother, we see nothing really about how or what they wrote or why they were the geniuses they were. Instead we get 3 attractive French stars pouting on the moors and at the gloomy parsonage. Isabelle Adjani is Emily who wrote “Wuthering Heights” and strides over the moors in mens’ clothes. Isabelle Huppert is Anne, the quiet mousy one, author of “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall”, while Marie-France Pisier (who died this year) is serenely beautiful as Charlotte, who created “Jane Eyre” and “Villette”. It is great to see Adjani again but she has nothing much to play with here – unlike her great role in Truffaut’s HISTORY OF ADELE H. There is rather too much of brother Branwell (Pascal Greggory) which frankly has one reaching for the fast-forward – there is the chilling moment though when he erases his image from the family portrait; his friend played by Jean Sorel is hardly in it, and Patrick Magee is also underused as their father. Emily and Anne die and Charlotte becomes a success, we end with her at the opera, a nice scene with the carriages and torches, as Mr Thackeray invites her and her husband to share his box, which is where we leave her. The girls through are really too attractive – as directed by Andre Techine I dare say it was popular at the time with the French.

LANDRU – An early Chabrol film (1963) hardly seen now, its in none of the boxsets (also known as BLUEBEARD – though not as much fun as the Burton one), this is a very interesting oddity, a not entirely successful telling of the Landru murders which fascinated France during WWI (he killed at least 11 women for their money). But it is neither a black comedy nor a straightforward drama. Again, an interesting cast of French ladies are the main interest, but we see too little of Danielle Darrieux, Michele Morgan, Hildegarde Knef, Juliette Mayniel (from EYES WITHOUT A FACE). Thankfully we do not see them being despatched, as each lady ends with a freeze frame, then cut to the smoking chimney of Landru’s country house, with the neighbours complaining of the smell, as he works at his stove … how he gets away with all this is a mystery [even buying return tickets for himself, and singles for them, from the girl at the railway station), while also dropping in on his wife and children now and then, and also keeping his silly mistress, Stephane Audran. Charles Denner though with shaved head and full beard is rather like a sinister little gnome – how did all these silly women fall into his clutches? - one expects them to scream or burst out laughing. He has no redeeming features whatsoever, so it gets rather dull eventually. Scripted by Francoise Sagan, with some rather lurid colour sets. The murders are intercut with footage of the carnage at the trenches, perhaps a point is being made about the collective madness of the time? Then it is the trial, he is executed, the end. Its a dubbed Joe E Levine release by Embassy.

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