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)
Gueule d’amour (1937)
A retired cavalry officer discovers the woman who won his heart was in love with the uniform. Dir: Jean Gremillon
A married tugboat captain falls for a woman he rescues from a sinking ship. Dir: Jean Gremillon
Jour Se Leve, Le (1939)
A young factory worker loses the woman he loves to a vicious schemer. Dir: Marcel Carne
l’ air De Paris (1954)
An over-the-hill boxer stakes his fortune on training a young railroad-worker. Dir: Marcel Carne
Leur derniere nuit (1953)
A schoolteacher falls for a librarian who’s secretly the head of a criminal ring. Dir: Georges Lacombe
Desordre et la nuit, le (1958)
A homicide detective tries to protect a pretty drug addict implicated in a murder. Dir: Gilles Grangier
Maria Chapdelaine (1934)
A Canadian frontierswoman must choose from among three suitors. Dir: Julien Duvivier
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
Pepe le Moko (1937)
Love for a beautiful woman draws a gangster out of hiding. Dir: Julien Duvivier
Grand Illusion (1937)
French POWs fight to escape their German captors during World War I. Dir: Jean Renoir
La Bete Humaine (1938)
A railroad engineer enters an affair with his friend’s amoral wife. Dir: Jean Renoir
Touchez Pas Au Grisbi (1954)
An aging gangster comes out of retirement when his best friend is kidnapped. Dir: Jacques Becker
Des gens sans importance (1955)
An unhappy waitress starts an affair with a married truck driver. Dir: Henri Verneuil