6.5 Battle of the Rails (1946)
6.5 The Walls of Malapaga (1949)
7.0 Jeux Interdits (1952)
6.5 Monsieur Ripois (1954)
5.0 Purple Noon (1959)
6.0 The Joy of Living (1961)
6.0 The Day and the Hour (1963)
6.5 Is Paris Burning? (1966)
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René Clémènt (France, 1913), dopo
aver sceneggiato una serie di film comici [fra i quali Soigne tou gauche (1936), con Tati]
e dopo tre documentari di carattere archeologico e contemporaneo, diresse il suo primo film,
La Bataille du Rail/ Battle of the Rails (1946), un tributo semidocumentario ai ferrovieri che presero parte alla
Resistenza, col quale Clémènt si presentava come il Rossellini francese. Realizzò
invece con Cocteau la fiaba coreografica La belle et la béte (1946) e con
Les Maudits (1947) diede un dramma apocalittico e metaforico sull'autodistruzione del
demone nazista e diresse Le Pére Tranquil (1946), di gran lunga il miglior film di
Sceneggiatore Zavattini, diresse poi Au Delà des Grilles/ The Walls of Malapaga (1949), un film noir con Gabin nella parte del fuggitivo, braccato dalla polizia per aver assassinato la moglie, che is innamora di una locandiera.
Poi giunse il successo di Jeux Interdits/ Forbidden Games (1952), malinconica denuncia degli orrori e dell'assurdità della guerra attraverso tenere scene d'infanzia:
La commedia ironica Monsieur Ripois/ Knave of Hearts (1954) ha per protagonista un cinico seduttore che vaga senza lavoro per Londra e seduce e abbandona una donna d'affari, una brava ragazza e una prostituta che lo disgusta; riesce a farsi sposare da un'ereditiera, ma, innamoratosi di un'affascinante amica della consorte, e da lei respinto, minaccia il suicidio, ma per disgrazia cade davvero dalla finestra riducendosi a un demente.
Gervaise (1956) e` la mediocre trasposizione di "L'Assomoir" di Emile Zola, che descrive la sordida vita di un disgraziato.
Gervaise finds a good man who is willing to marry her. For a while she is happy. They work hard but he is a nice man and she has what she always wanted: a family. She is saving money to start her own boutique. Alas, Gervaise falls down a roof and remains disabled. She spends her savings to take care of him. The blacksmith, Goujet, a friend of her husband inherits some money and lends it to her so she can open her own laundry. She's happy again. One day she meets Virginie, who got mattied with a cop and moved to an apartment nearby. Virginie is friendly and willing to forget their past. She tells her that Lantier left Adele and may come back. Goujet even takes one of Gervaise's sons as an apprentice in his shop. The shop is doing well, and Gervaise hires more women to help her, but her husband, who is still not working, is becoming a drunkard. One day she finds out that he has been spending the money that she saved to pay back Goujet. Ashamed, she goes to apologize to Goujet, but he doesn't want any money. He is obviously in love with her and almost kisses her. In the meantime, Virginie tells her that Lantier is back.
Lantier shows up at a big dinner at Virginie's place. Instead of being jealous, her husband welcomes Lantier (who hardly cares to see his children) and invites him to stay. Gervaise realizes that it's all been planned by Virginie. In the meantime, Goujet has been arrested for leading a workers' protest and is sentenced to one year in prison. The bad man is a guest in her house and the good man can no longer help her.
The husband gets worse and worse. One night, while her husband is brought back unconscious by the cop, she cannot resist Lantier's seduction. That is the beginning of a sordid menage a trois. The husband even pawns sheets of her customers to pay for his drinking. Goujet is released from jail but decides to leave. Gervaise entrusts her older and hard-working son to him.
She has to work hard and is behind paying rent to the landlord and the salary to her helper, while her two men indulge in a nice lifestyle. After she finds out that Lantier has been sleeping with Virginie too, Gervaise throws him out of the house. Lantier coldly proposes to her husband that they should sell the shop. It turns out Virginie is the one who is interested in buying it: now the whole plot is clear to Gervaise. She would be willing to continue the fight, but one night her husband goes mad and destroys the shop before dying. Gervaise is left with nothing. The daughter she had from her husband has to go around begging.
Barrage contre le Pacifique/ La Diga sul Pacifico/ This Angry Age/ The Sea Wall (1957)
Pur saltando di palo in frasca, Clémènt ha definito per bene la sua personalità di regista: un provetto narratore, capace di condurre in porto qualsiasi soggetto e avvicinare lo spettatore, sollecitando i suoi appetiti sentimentali, avventurosi o comici. Fedele al proprio eclettismo, ha tentato anche la "nouvelle vague".
The thriller Plein Soleil/ Purple Noon (1959) is a very minor transposition of the novel "The Talented Mr Ripley" by Patricia Highsmith. In the book, the suspense is continuously recreated by a series of plot twists in which the protagonist basically challenges rationality, trying to find more and more subtle solutions to harder and harder problems that he himself has created. But Clement's film is a poor recreation of that suspense.
I suoi film dedicati alla guerra comprendono la farsa Quelle Joie De Vivre/ The Joy of Living (1961) ambientata nella Roma fascista, il "resistenziale" Le Jour et l'Heure/ The Day and the Hour (1963), nel quale la Signoret si unisce ai partigiani con un aviatore americano, e soprattutto Paris Brule-t-il/ Is Paris Burning? (1966), fantacronaca della ritirata tedesca da Parigi durante la quale il comandante rifiuta di eseguire l'ordine dato da Hitler di bruciare Parigi. The film's scriptwriters include Gore Vidal and Francis Ford Coppola, and the cast includes many stars (Jean-Paul Belmondo, Alain Delon, Yves Montand, Orson Welles, Kirk Douglas, Glenn Ford, etc). The film is spectacular, especially for the settings among famous monuments, basically a collage of suspenseful or glorifying episodes, but overlong (the last 30 minutes are truly tedious).
The head of the communists, Colonel Rol, warns students who have been promised weapons by a shady Serge. They ignore his warning and follow Serge to a garage where they are executed on the spot by German soldiers.
The French police go on strike because the Germans disarmed them. The communists post flyers around Paris calling for an insurrection and a communist group led by Yves seizes the prefecture. Colonel Rol orders his men to take action too. They take over city hall and depose the mayor. A man called Joliot organizes men to make molotov cocktails in the wine cellar. Colonel Rol orders the communists to spread out throughout Paris. The German governor orders to surround the prefecture with tanks but the French guerrillas kill scores of German soldiers. The Swedish consul mediates a cease-fire between the DeGaulle fighters and the German governor, who was ready to bomb the prefecture from the air. Colonel Rol's communists, however, protest against Jacques' decision. A vote is taken and the majority votes against the cease-fire. Jacques' men only ask that the decision be made public the following day. The communists have a problem though: they ran out of ammunitions. The communists have their center of operation in the sewers of Paris. Colonel Rol sends a trusted man, Roger, to ask the allies to parachute arms on Paris. It's a dangerous mission through a militarized border. A physician helps Roger reach the border area, and suggests that he should ask to speak with a general named Leclerc instead of asking for weapons: the priority should be to convince the allies to liberate Paris right away. A baker helps Roger cross the border and he safely reaches the US troops. Meanwhile, the Resistance calls for erecting barricades in the streets of Paris. At the same time the German governor is pressured by his superior to stop negotiating and start bombing Paris. Roger tells Patton (without knowing that he's Patton) that the Resistance controls half of Paris but it's out of ammunitions and asks him to liberate Paris before it gets destroyed. Patton is sympathetic but his orders are to win the war, not to liberate cities. Roger then asks to meet with Leclerc and is escorted to him via a night-long jeep ride. He doesn't meet Leclerc but is introduced to a meeting of allied generals. They listen to his moving plea to save Paris from destruction and the US general in charge dispatches an armored division to liberate Paris under the command of Leclerc. The German governor tells the Swedish consul that he has orders to blow up Paris. He knows that the war is lost and it's pointless to destroy Paris with all its historical monuments, so he begs the consul to talk to DeGaulle and stop the Resistance. It's the only chance to save Paris. The Resistance is preparing to take over Paris. Pierrelot (Belmondo) is placed in charge of storming a hotel that will be used as the venue for the provisional government: he doesn't need any violence as the guards surrender and join the Resistance. We then see documentarian footage of battlefields. The crowds along the way are ecstatic. As the allies approach Paris, the German governor now has no choice but to prepare to explode the Tour Eiffel, the Louvre, and other landmarks. His superior calles from Germany and asks why the delay. The governor replies that he's just waiting to evacuate the last German troops. The superior demands that Paris be burned immediately. The French troops are entering Paris (on US tanks and trucks), welcomed by an euphoric population but also engaged in guerrilla warfare with the remaining Germans. The German governor remains at the German headquarters until the liberators storm the building. He then surrenders formally and is paraded outside to stop the fighting of the last remaining Germans. The bells of Notre Dame have not been ringing for years and for the first time since the occupation they do. Crowds rip German flags and sing "La Marseillaise". The phone on the governor's desk has not been hung properly and we can hear a hysterical German asking "Is Paris burning?" We then see vintage footage of general DeGaulle arriving in Paris and the oceanic crowds celebrating the liberation.
Clémènt si dedica al poliziesco, genere minore al quale si sposa felicemente il suo talento narrativo: Les Felins/ Love Cage/ Joy House [(1964) Alain Delon braccato dai gangster chiede asilo a Jane Fonda], Passager de la Pluie/ Rider in the Rain (1969), La Maison Sous les Arbres/ The Deadly Trap (1971), La Course de la Lièvre à Travers Les Champs/ And Hope to Die [(1972) il giovane Trintignant soccorre la vittima di un gruppo di zingari che gli affida una forte somma, ma il giovane finisce per cedere alla caccia degli zingari e diventare loro complice], Baby Sitter [(1975) un bambino e la sua baby sitter Sydne Rome nelle mani di una banda di rapitori].