Giving and Receiving

A look of madness…

Just calculated that I had mailed or at least packed 30 discs in the Great Duvivier Giveaway, with 11 requests still to fulfill. And I decided before I began that I was happy to dispense at least 100 cheap discs, depending on demand, so I’m not thru yet.

Pleasingly, a lot of the recipients are KEY TASTEMAKERS and all round groovy so-and-sos, which works to the advantage of my Grand Scheme to rewrite film history. And the rest are obviously beautiful people. The chances are this will all do something positive for Duvivier, even if only by the SPURIOUS ASSOCIATION of linking his films in people’s minds with the concept of random gift-giving. He’ll be like Santa Claus, or the Great Pumpkin.

I have a Spur. Assoc.myself, in a way, since I ran my purloined VHS of LA FIN DU JOUR for the first time with my late friend Lawrie. Lawrie was probably about 79 at the time, paralysed down one side, and with a swollen foot that doctors kept threatening to remove. He was housebound much of the time and had great difficulty getting from his wheelchair to his bed.

And yet, at the end of many a film we watched, including this one, he would smile beatifically and say, “Ah, life is good!”

I remember he was very impressed with Victor Francen’s performance in particular. “We always thought he was just a Frenchman!” he said in wonderment. (Francen was actually Belgian.) It’s true that Francen’s American films, made mostly during the war years, use his accent and dignified air, but don’t give him so much to do. He’s wonderful in LA FIN DU JOUR, turning that dignity into a sympathetic quality, a form of vulnerability.

Is my love of this film bundled up with the occasion I first saw it? Probably. The second screening was with Fiona, and I loved it just as much, and she was very much taken with it too. So I don’t think this is purely a sentimental attachment. But as it’s a very emotional film, it’s hard to be certain of that. So it’ll be very interesting what people think.

Post your initial thoughts in the Comments section here. I’ll right a bigger post on the film when I’ve sent out more discs.

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