LA PETITE LISE is the subject of this week’s edition of The Forgotten. Maybe it’s the sole flirtation of the Pathe-Natan company with the avant-garde, in that it features Nadia Sibirskaia from MENILMONTANT, and partakes of a similar aesthetic, evoking psychological turmoil through close attention to faces and places. Narrative, though present, takes a back seat.
If the film seems like a departure from the commercial concerns of the studio, which favoured boulevard farces, crime dramas, and great tales from history or literature when it wanted to go up-market, there are nevertheless intriguing connections to two of the studio’s later literary adaptations — as the story of a pardoned convict trying to go straight it prefigures the 1934 LES MISERABLES, and in a subplot about lovers who need to raise 300 Francs to get hitched, it seems to reference the cash MacGuffin of 300 roubles which starts off the tragedy of THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV, which also became a Natan film.
This makes Jean Gremillon the most-featured director in history of The Forgotten, the first to chalk up three appearances. Basically, every time I see a Gremillon film, I write about it for The Forgotten.