Fievre 1921

 

 

The name of French critic-turned-film director Louis Delluc (1890-1924) is all but unknown nowadays; he was the contemporary of such French cinema luminaries as Jean Epstein, Abel Gance and Marcel L’Herbier and is credited with founding the first cine’-club. Indeed, the French have instituted a “Prix Louis Delluc” which has since been awarded to many renowned native film-makers. Even so, he is best-remembered for two of the seven films he made but, unfortunately, only one of them seems to be readily available – on “You Tube”, of all places! – (albeit in a 31 minute-version, as opposed to the “official” 50…but one is never too sure about the correct length of Silent films!); for the record, the other one is entitled LA FEMME DE NULLE PART (1922). Having said that, not even the exhaustive “Films De France” website has much at all to say about Delluc so scarce is the exposure of his work!

The story is a set in a seaside town that seems straight out of Marcel Pagnol’s famous “Marius” trilogy: the barmaid of the local tavern (played by Ève Francis, the director’s wife) is married to jealous tavern owner (Gaston Modot – earning another feather in his distinguished cap since he would later be starring in the apogée of French avant-garde cinema, Luis Buñuel’s L’AGE D’OR {1930}, and French cinema itself, Jean Renoir’s THE RULES OF THE GAME {1939}) but her mind wanders to her absent sailor lover (Edmond Van Daële) – cue copious irises of sailing ships. Their clientele is the expected company of indolent card-players, tipsy drunkards, sensitive spinsters and devious prudes.

Before long, Van Daële’s ship does indeed dock in the port and he makes his way to the tavern with his rowdy crew and Asian wife (who had recently nursed him back to health)! Francis does not take kindly to this intrusion, nor does Modot to his wife’s excessive attentions to her former beau. Soon a kind of fever takes over Francis (who, aided by her sluttish flunkies, violently attacks the Asian girl) and Modot (who fatally assaults Van Daële and, anticipating the aforementioned Buñuel classic, tramples underfoot the dying man’s head!); once tragedy strikes, the sailors beat up Modot in his cellar and drag him away, as Francis mourns her dead lover. The Asian girl has meanwhile found refuge with a lonely spinster and the local authorities arrive to take Francis away. Another significant asset here was the beautiful piano-led score that turns into a synth-based chorale once all hell breaks loose.

Director: Louis Delluc
Writer: Louis Delluc
Stars: Ève Francis, Edmond Van Daële, Gaston Modot

Advertisements

Author: Old Boy

Love the past and the future but live in the present