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Don’t Miss Jean Gabin on August 18th

A note from Kittenbiscuits: Kimalysong is a contributor here at Sittin on a Backyard Fence. She will mainly write about foreign and silent films and upcoming screenings on TCM that she feels are essential for classic film fans to watch. This is her first of hopefully many entries here.

There are many days to look forward to during TCM’s annual Summer Under The Stars celebration this August. But the day I am most looking forward to is Jean Gabin coming up this Thursday the 18th.

Gabin, a French actor, rose to stardom in his native country during the poetic realism movement of the 1930’s.  I’ve always loved Poetic Realism films because you can see how they influenced the noir films of the 1940’s. They are often films inspired by realistic literature that tell the story of downbeat characters in the working or criminal class who are disillusioned with society. These characters often get one last chance at happiness but these films like the best of noir usually end on a cynical note. Quite a few of the best examples of these films are scheduled on Gabin’s day including Le Jour Se Leve, Pepe Le Moko, La Grand Illusion, and La Bete Humaine. I highly recommend them all.

If you have not already seen La Grand Illusion it is often called one of the best films ever made and it was cited as a favorite film by both Orson Welles and Woody Allen. It’s a wonderful humanistic story not to be missed.

La Bete Humaine is another great film directed by Jean Renoir. It is an adaptation of a novel by Emile Zola and contains some gorgeous scenes on a locomotive.

If you have seen Algiers with Charles Boyer, Pepe Le Moko might be familiar to you as it is the original version. I feel Pepe is the superior of the two movies, in large part because of Gabin’s charismatic performance playing an anti-hero as the titular character.

TCM also scheduled one of Gabin’s best later films Touchez Pas Au Grisbi (Don’t Touch the Loot) which tells the story of an aging gangster. This was a film very appropriate for Gabin because he did play the role of the gangster in the past.

The rest of the films I have not seen myself. and what is most exciting is I believe most of these films are not readily available in the US. I have heard a number of these films are considered classics in France.

I believe this is the first time TCM has a SUTS day for a non-Hollywood actor (well technically speaking Gabin did make a couple films in Hollywood but neither will be showing on the 18th).  I hope this starts a trend and TCM will continue to honor at least one foreign star every August. Perhaps if we are really lucky a foreign actor will even be made Star of the Month one day in the future.

Gabin is often referred to as the French Bogart or the French Spencer Tracy, but I find these comparisons unfair. Gabin is Gabin, he had his own wonderful screen presence and doesn’t need to be compared to anyone.

Gabin perfectly portrayed the everyman, someone audiences could both look up to and identify with.  He worked with some of the very best French directors and made a lasting contribution to film.

Below if the full schedule (taken from TCM’s website)

6:00 AM
Gueule d’amour (1937)

A retired cavalry officer discovers the woman who won his heart was in love with the uniform. Dir: Jean Gremillon

8:00 AM
Remorques (1941)

A married tugboat captain falls for a woman he rescues from a sinking ship. Dir: Jean Gremillon

9:30 AM
Jour Se Leve, Le (1939)

A young factory worker loses the woman he loves to a vicious schemer. Dir: Marcel Carne

11:00 AM
l’ air De Paris (1954)

An over-the-hill boxer stakes his fortune on training a young railroad-worker. Dir: Marcel Carne

1:00 PM
Leur derniere nuit (1953)

A schoolteacher falls for a librarian who’s secretly the head of a criminal ring. Dir: Georges Lacombe

2:45 PM
Desordre et la nuit, le (1958)

A homicide detective tries to protect a pretty drug addict implicated in a murder. Dir: Gilles Grangier

4:30 PM
Maria Chapdelaine (1934)

A Canadian frontierswoman must choose from among three suitors. Dir:  Julien Duvivier

6:00 PM
Bandera, La (1934)

A murderer escapes France to join the Spanish Foreign Legion, where he finds love while pursued by the law. Dir: Julien Duvivier

8:00 PM
Pepe le Moko (1937)

Love for a beautiful woman draws a gangster out of hiding. Dir: Julien Duvivier

10:00 PM
Grand Illusion (1937)

French POWs fight to escape their German captors during World War I. Dir: Jean Renoir

12:00 AM
La Bete Humaine (1938)

A railroad engineer enters an affair with his friend’s amoral wife. Dir: Jean Renoir

2:00 AM
Touchez Pas Au Grisbi (1954)

An aging gangster comes out of retirement when his best friend is kidnapped. Dir: Jacques Becker

4:00 AM
Des gens sans importance (1955)

An unhappy waitress starts an affair with a married truck driver. Dir: Henri Verneuil

 

 

kimalysong

Comments

angelnumber25
Reply

Great post! I got to see Le jour se leve in Film History this past spring, and loved it. It’s great to see TCM featuring stars from other countries. And, like you said, the tie to noir from Poetic Realism is very interesting, and Gabin is definately the guy I think of when putting a face to Poetic Realism.

kimalysong
Reply

Thanks for commenting. Wow a film history class I am jealous. I would have loved to take one of those.

Poetic Realism films really are like watching Proto-Noir films. I am a big fan of both types of movies. Seeing the connection between movies makes watching them more enjoyable than they already are. I love seeing how we got from point A to point B.

The Lady Eve
Reply

I’ve been looking forward to Gabin’s day since I found out he was being honored during TCM’s “Summer Under the Stars.” I’ve seen his best known films (“Le Jour Se Leve,” “Pepe Le Moko,” “La Grand Illusion,” “La Bete Humaine), plus his first American film, “Moontide.” But I haven’t seen the majority of the films set to airi on the 18th. Can’t wait.

I agree that “Pepe le Moko” is superior to “Algiers.” Boyer can be interesting to watch with his dark-eyed, moody glamor…but Gabin’s earthy nobility is much more compelling.

kimalysong
Reply

Thanks for commenting. I actually haven’t seen his Hollywood films yet. They would have been interesting to see as a comparison to his other work. At the same time I figure if I want to I can probably find them easily. I am glad TCM has scheduled so many rare films on his day. That’s what makes the day extra special. Although I am definitely looking forward to seeing La Bete Humaine and Pepe Le Moko again.

Gabin’s earthy nobility is much more compelling.

What a great way to put it!

kittenbiscuits
Reply

I’m really excited to see some of his films. I’m DVR’ing several. Hopefully I will be able to sit down and watch some soon. I’ve only seen him in La Grand Illusion.

kimalysong
Reply

I hope you enjoy them. :)

I am so excited about today but I haven’t had the chance to watching anything. Everything is being saved on my DVR. I hope to watch something this weekend though.

The Lady Eve
Reply

I’ve been methodically watching the Gabin films I recorded on his day – I’ve already watched some of the ones I hadn’t seen before twice. “Touchez pas au grisbi” was a great surprise – and Gabin as Max, no words to describe it (plus the very young Moreau). Interesting that it came out before “Bob le flambeur” – many similarities. I also enjoyed “L’Air de Paris” – romantic charm – and Gabin and Arletty together again. It was one of the best “Summer Under the Stars” days ever…

Kim
Reply

I still need to watch L’Air de Paris so I am glad to hear you enjoyed it. Maybe I will watch that one this weekend.

So far the only two new Gabin films I watched were the two directed by Jean Grémillon: Le Gueule D’Amour and Remorques. They were both very good and I think it’s a shame (as far as I know) none of this director’s work is available in the US. Although I did see Janus run across Remorques so I wonder if a Criterion release might be in its future.

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