Vital Signs

A Great Novelty

My Father's Glory My Mother's Castle
Produced by Alain Poire
Directed by Yves Robert
Written by Lucette Andrei and Yves Robert
Released by Orion Classics

At a certain point, maybe two-thirds of the way through the pretentious nonsense of Barton Fink, I began to despair of finding anything interesting enough to write about, even in a bimonthly chronicle. I was wavering between guilt (I was wasting my time) and anger at the sad state of affairs in which there was nothing in theaters worth recommending, or even talking about as an interesting failure. I found myself thinking of Paul Goodman who, for a short while, reviewed movies for, I think, the Partisan Review. He wrote about Charlie Chaplin in one issue, then someone like Jean Renoir, and then, abruptly, he quit, on the ground that there wasn't anything else in movies worth paying attention to.

Well, it's extreme, but it began to seem less and less nutty to me, particularly after I caught Angele on the Bravo channel one night. This is a 1934 Marcel Pagnol film, rather less well known than the Fanny trilogy or The Baker's Wife, but a splendid piece, nonetheless. It is about an innocent peasant girl in Provence who is seduced by a fast-talking slicker from the city, taken away to Marseille, and turned out into a life of prostitution. That's just the set-up, though....

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