Des Gens Sans Importance (1956)

vt People of No Importance
France / 99 minutes / bw / Cocinor, Chaillot, Ardennes-Films de René Lafuite Dir: Henri Verneuil Pr: René Lafuite Scr: Henri Verneuil, François Boyer Story: Des Gens Sans Importance (1949) by Serge Groussard Cine: Louis Page Cast: Jean Gabin, Françoise Arnoul, Pierre Mondy, Yvette Etiévant, Dany Carrel, Nane Germon, Jacques Mann, André Dalibert, Pierre Fromont, Alain Bouvette, Ardisson, Nina Myral, Max Mégy, Gérard Darrieu, Lila Kedrova, Robert Dalban, Héléna Manson, Paul Frankeur.

Christmas Eve, and long-distance trucker Jean Viard (Gabin) and his co-driver Pierrot Berty (Mondy), veterans of the Paris–Bordeaux run, stop at a roadside diner, La Caravane, to grab a couple of hours’ sleep. La Caravane’s one-legged owner, their old friend Émile Barchandeau (Frankeur), has hired a new waitress, Clotilde “Clo” Brachet (Arnoul); even though she’s not much older than Jean’s wannabe-sexpot 17-year-old daughter Jacqueline (Carrel), she and Jean strike a spark.

I’m not going to be too worried about spoilers: first because Des Gens Sans Importance isn’t the kind of movie you watch waiting for the plot twists and second because most of the accounts of this movie you’ll come across will go into far greater detail about the plot than I will here. What I want to do is give a barest-of-bones outline so I can talk about other aspects of the movie.

Jean Gabin as Jean.

Despite the disparity of their ages and even though she knows he’s been married for years to Solange (Etiévant), Clo eventually seduces Jean. Five months into the affair, Continue reading

Vent se Lève, Le (1959)

vt Time Bomb

France, Italy / 92 minutes / bw / Groupe des 4, Da. Ma. Cinematografica Dir: Yves Ciampi Scr: Yves Ciampi, Henri-François Rey, Jean-Charles Tacchella Story: Jean-Charles Tacchella Cine: Armand Thirard Cast: Curd Jürgens, Mylène Demongeot, Alain Saury, Paul Mercey, Robert Porte, Daniel Sorano, Jean Daurand, Gabriel Gobin, André Dalibert, Jess Hahn, Raymond Loyer.

In Le Havre, wastrel siblings Michel (Saury) and Catherine Mougins (Demongeot) have run the family shipping business into the ground since the death of their magnate father. A friend of Michel’s suggests to him, as if it were a new idea, the old shipping-insurance scam: fill one of the company’s ships with a cargo of sawdust in the guise of expensive Ceylon tea, scupper the ship, blame an old WWII mine for the sinking, and claim a huge sum from the insurance company. The shipping firm owns a suitable hulk, the Volturnia, now docked in Hamburg.

Vent se Leve, plotters Jurgens & Demongeot

Jürgens and Demongeot, plotting mischief.

Catherine ropes in her much older lover Éric Muller (Jürgens), a retired sea captain trying to make it big in business, and in turn he ropes in his Hamburg pal Mathias (Sorano), a specialist in criminal bombings. Together Éric and Mathias plant a time bomb in the bowels of the vessel; before going ashore, Mathias announces that nothing can now stop the bomb going off at 3am.

The ship sets sail for the planned detonation area, the vicinity of an old minefield (so as to make the “accident” seem plausible), with Éric as skipper, and needless to say there are problems. They Continue reading