Bong. Bong. Bong. Bong. Bong. Bong. Bong. Bong. Bong. Bong. Bong. Bong.
From Julien Duvivier’s LA CHARRETTE FANTOME, a remake of Victor Sjostrom’s KORKARLEN (THE PHANTOM CARRIAGE). Duvivier’s film might be an all-time New Year classic, right up there with THE APARTMENT, if it were available with an English translation, and/or if Duvivier’s reputation were up where it belongs.
I’ve been watching a fair bit of Louis Jouvet recently. Since LA FIN DU JOUR, one of my favourite actors. In LA CHARRETTE you really get the impression that he’s photosensitive — completely aware of how light and shade is affecting his face and how he comes across. But in other films, this impression is less acute, so I’d say it’s a three-way thing between Duvivier, Jouvet, and cinematographer Jules Kruger.
It’s a visually spectacular film, as the opening shot illustrates, panning from an impressive miniature of a snow-shrouded city, directly onto an elaborate multi-level full-size set.
Duvivier’s unpopularity with the Cahiers critics may have had something to do with the flash way he flaunted his production values — his movies are big, studio-bound, and could be seen as vulgar in their gigantism, their artificiality, and their aestheticism. Of course, I love all that.