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Grand Illusions: French Cinema Classics, 1928–1960

Saturday, November 3, 2012
6:00 p.m. L’étrange Monsieur Victor
Jean Grémillon (France, 1938)

Imported 35mm Print!

This rarely screened Grémillon gem is a mordant and morally ambiguous tale of bourgeois hypocrisy, crime, and comeuppance. The inimitable Raimu (best known to PFA audiences as César in Pagnol’s Fanny Trilogy) stars as Victor, a respectable shopkeeper by day and fence by night, who, threatened with blackmail, impulsively kills one of his criminal cronies. A local cobbler, Bastien (Pierre Blanchar), is sent up for the murder, but Victor, ensconced in his comfortable apartment, becomes a different sort of prisoner. Grémillon makes the most of the colorful dockside atmosphere of Toulon, an achievement that seems all the more impressive considering that much of the film was shot in the UFA studio in Berlin.

—Juliet Clark

• Written by Albert Valentin, Charles Spaak. Photographed by Walter Kriene. With Raimu, Pierre Blanchar, Madeleine Renaud, Viviane Romance. (97 mins, In French with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm, From Institut Français)