Paul-Edmond Decharme for Alcina
directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot
starring Serge Reggiani, Michel Auclair, Cécile Aubry, Andrex, Raymond Souplex, André Valmy, Henri Vilbert, Héléna Manson, Dora Doll, Simone Valère, Gabrielle Fontan, Wanda Ottoni, Rosy Varte, Edmond Ardisson, Michel Bouquet, Robert Dalban, Jean Hébey, Jean Témerson, Gabrielle Dorziat
screenplay by Henri-Georges Clouzot, Jean Ferry, based on the novel by Abbé Prévost, music by Paul Misraki
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France, 1945: The Americans are presently working on freeing the
country, and in their wake, French militia clear the cities of
sharpshooters, but also collaborators and sympathizers with the Germans.
And one such "sympathizer" might be lovely Manon (Cécile
Aubry), just because her mother owned a café that was frequented by the
Germans, mostly, and she, a lovely young girl, was friendly with them. The
people of her village want to publicly disgrace her for this, but the
militia takes her into custody - where she manages to charm her guard
Robert (Michel Auclair), and together they steal an Army jeep and make
their way to freshly liberated Paris, where they get to live with her
brother Léon (Serge Reggiani). Now Paris these days was a place where
there was plenty of money to be made - in contraband. And Léon is good
friends with M. Paul (Raymond Souplex), who's big in contraband. And M.
Paul takes an instant liking to Manon, so he creates a job for Robert that
gets him out of the country, just so he has some "alone time"
with her. Once Robert finds out, he breaks off all contact with M. Paul
and moves to the province with Manon, where he has an honest job and she
works as a model. But with time she brings home more and more money and
expensive things, and eventually he becomes suspicious - and learns she
has long quit her job as a model and works in a high class brothel as
prostitute. He is shocked, but just as he's about to strangle her, he
realizes how much in love he still is despite everything - so the two of
them move on, and this time decide to a life in trading contraband
together so Manon wouldn't be tempted by other opportunities. Soon they
find an American Army afficer who's charmed by Manon and thus ok with,
well, let a bit of penicilin fall off the truck with every shipment for
Robert to sell to local hospitals and the like for a healthy profit. But
then the officer is ordered back to the USA and he wants Manon to come
with him as his bride. She agrees, much to Robert's terror - and that's
where Manon's brother Léon comes in again, as he's to stall Robert until
Manon is safely on her trip to the USA. But in a fit of rage, Robert kills
Léon, then phones Manon about it to bid her farewell - but she only now
realizes how much he loves her and she loves him back that she ditches the
officer to go to Marseilles with Robert where they stow away on a ship
that smuggles Jews to Israel. But they're found out, and now at the mercy
of the captain (Henri Vilbert), who takes a sympathy to their story,
but still has his duty - and after all, Robert is a murderer ...
the novel this movie is based on is set in the 18th century, but the film
makes a good job out of transplanting the plot into (then) contemporary
times with a very contemporary socio-political background, turning the
story into a mixture of romance, crime movie and adventure - and the movie
not only works because of its tight screenplay but also thanks to its
wonderful direction where almost each shot is a quite impressive tableau,
and a very strong cast.
Pretty much a must-see!