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, 19 July 2014

The cat's miouw !

LE CHAT (THE CAT), 1971. A masterclass in screen acting from two of France’s greats: Jean Gabin and Simone Signoret in this version of a Simenon novel as directed by Pierre Granier-Deferre.  Julien and Clemence are a long-married couple who now seem to detest each other and share their house without talking – he has transferred his affections to his cat. Their state of war exists as the neighbourhood around them, in suburban Paris, is pulled down and their own house is due for demolition too. Each shops for themselves as their feud escalates. Clemence worked as a circus acrobat but now has a limp, while he becomes every more grumpy and isolated. Events come to a climax with a gun – she shoots the cat, which he puts out with the rubbish! Then he moves out to stay with Annie Cordy at her hotel but he is no happier as Clemence hangs around the streets watching him. He moves back but then tragedy strikes …. 

It is an absorbing drama with both stars note-perfect, at first I thought it was shaping up to be a savage black comedy, but then it just gets sombre and grim as we reach a very downbeat ending. Granier-Deferre (who was married to Susan Hampshire in the '60s), like Claude Miller, made several absorbing dramas and entertainments without ever getting the kudos of the Truffauts. (Trintignant and Romy Schneider are both terrific in his THE LAST TRAIN, review at French label and I have his LE VEUVE COUDERC, another Simenon, with Delon and Signoret, to watch),. This one does not disappoint either. 

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