Directed by Marcel Carné
USA 1938


  Obscure Marcel Carne film from 1938, the peak year of French "poetic realism"--shadows and soliloquies. Arletty plays a prostitute, Louis Jouvet her pimp; both are holed up in a riverside hotel where Annabella and Jean-Pierre Aumont are considering a lovers' suicide.

Excerpt of Capsule by Dave Kehr from the Chicago Reader located HERE

Two lovers meet in a Parisian hotel determined to commit suicide, but lose their nerve. Gorgeously melancholy melodrama by the director of Les Enfants Du Paradis

Carné's atmospheric character study shares with much of his other a work a seductive sense of romantic fatalism. Renée (Annabella) and Pierre (Aumont) are the young lovers who arrive at a hotel on the banks of the Canal Saint-Martin in Paris with the intention of committing a double suicide. The attempt fails and Pierre, having merely wounded Renée, is forced to flee and then gives himself up to the police. A network of sub-plots leads the film into the heart of Parisian lowlife, Carné's storytellling always drifting towards those on the road to nowhere.

Completely studio-bound with impressive sets, this now seems a little old-fashioned and static, but the melodrama the director visits on his his little people remains genuinely moving.

Here, a long way from his masterpiece Les Enfants Du Paradis, Carné nevertheless shows considerable skill in handling his cast and the confined setting. This version of Paris is plainly unreal, yet it's as evocative and romantically seedy as any summoned up by the movies. 

Excerpt from Channel 4 located HERE


Theatrical Release: December 19th, 1938

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DVD Review: Soda Pictures - Region 2 - PAL

Thanks to David Hare for the screen captures!

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Distribution Soda Pictures - Region 2 - PAL
Runtime Approx 92 minutes 
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: ? mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
Audio French (Mono) 
Subtitles English, None

Release Information:
Studio: Soda Pictures

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Introduction by Paul Ryan
• Trailer
• Picture Gallery

DVD Release Date: April 24th, 2006

Black Keep Case inside cardboard slip cover
Chapters: ?




Very decent image, if not approaching Criterion levels. Contrast is a little blended but we must remember that the film is from 1938. There are some infrequent speckles and flickering but I found no untoward digital manipulations. Good optional subtitles and a an introduction by Paul Ryan. This is a solid DVD effort!

This film exemplifies the power of the DVD medium and its ability to share classics outside of the mainstream grid. You'd be lucky to catch this on television in the past decade but now you can have this treasure to enjoy anytime you wish. I believe this may be the first Soda Pictures DVD we have reviewed and I am anxious to see more from them.

Gary W. Tooze


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Distribution Soda Pictures - Region 2 - PAL


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