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 Quai des brumes/Port of Shadows Zone 2 UK

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michel sanvoisin


Nombre de messages : 85
Localisation : rue des moines, paris
Date d'inscription : 11/11/2006

MessageSujet: Quai des brumes/Port of Shadows Zone 2 UK   Jeu 10 Mai - 18:12

this is the review by Chris Stanley @ Cinedelica of the first release (at last!) in DVD ZONE 2 UK (that means with english subtitles) of famous "Quai des Brumes" thanks to Optimum Home Entertainment.
You could read it here or this is a quick cut & paste in case it disappears :

Citation :

DVD Review: Le Quai Des Brumes (1938)
Fans of film should be thankful for Marcel Carné. If he’s slipped off your radar, you should know that he was one of the most revered helmsmen of pre-war cinema. Gathering together a talented bunch of actors, designers and scribes, Carné set about injecting a dose of gritty realism into French film-making. He’s even credited with the mainstream idea of ‘poetic realism,’ which takes the hopes of those who aspire to something better, and grinds them under a muddy footprint. It’s a theme that will be familiar to fans of film noir, not to mention a certain movie set in a certain Moroccan city.

Le Quai Des Brumes (The Port Of Shadows) was Carné’s fourth film as a director, and his first with Jean Gabin as his leading man. Gabin plays Jean, a deserter from the French Army, who finds his way to the seedy port of Le Havre looking for a quick exit on one of the ships. The titular port town is a place for those looking to either lose themselves or escape. Jean finds himself mixed up in some pretty shady business before too long.

Much of this business is linked to seventeen-year old Nelly (Michèle Morgan), who finds a place in her heart for the military man, while fending off the lecherous advances of her sleazy godfather, Zabel (Michel Simon). Nelly is clearly a girl in demand – walking the cobbles in a see-through mac, she has already turned the head of local gangster Lucien (Pierre Brasseur). A large part of the movie is devoted to Jean’s battle between doing what his head says, and what his heart makes him do.

Rightly lauded as a fore-runner of the noir genre, Le Quai Des Brumes is a gem unearthed by Optimum. The print’s been cleaned up from earlier transfers, and because of this the use of shadow and light, especially in the long shots, looks stunning. Le Havre is by turns seedy and welcoming, which for a mainly studio-filmed story is nothing short of a miracle.

The film is driven by the obvious sexual chemistry between the then 34 year old Gabin and his leading lady Morgan, eighteen at the time. At a time when Hollywood was stifled by the Hays code, Jean and Nelly share passionate kisses and wake up together the morning after. Equally convincing is the sleazy Zabel, the man nobody likes but has to suffer. He’s the black heart beneath the harbour in more ways than one.

There are complaints, or course. Brasseur is over-the-top even for the times, and removes any menace he’s supposed to convey, and let’s just say fight scenes aren’t Carné’s forte. Another charge levelled at Le Quai Des Brumes is that you can see the plot coming together a mile away, and it’s riddled with clichés of the noir genre (smouldering leading lady, ugly villains, portentous music). However, Carné and his team were bringing these conventions to the screen well before anyone else thought of nicking them.

It’s worth watching Le Quai Des Brumes as a mood-piece as much as anything else. The cinematography is truly stunning for the time, Gabin laconically deflates any pretensions that creep into the dialogue, and even if you see the ending coming, it’s arguably more powerful shot by Carné in the fog of the harbour than in any expensively filmed scene today. A classic, and for good reason.

Extras: None.

Chris Stanley

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