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Grand Illusions: French Cinema Classics, 1928–1960

Friday, December 7, 2012
7:00 p.m. Port of Shadows
Marcel Carné (France, 1938)

Imported 35mm Print!

(Quai des brumes). The first of the collaborations between director Marcel Carné and writer Jacques Prévert, who would go on to make Le jour se lève and Children of Paradise, Port of Shadows is a melancholy poem of life and death in the lower depths of Le Havre. Jean Gabin projects stubborn dignity and deep weariness as Jean, a deserter from the French colonial army who arrives one foggy night at an otherworldly waterfront dive. There he encounters a variety of underworld characters, including a beautiful, troubled young woman (Michèle Morgan), who, like Jean, dreams of some kind of escape—from the past, from the shadowy streets, and from her sinister guardian, unsettlingly played by Michel Simon. Eugen Shufftan’s atmospheric cinematography matches the lyrical pessimism of Prévert’s dialogue; figures come and go in the nocturnal mist, moments of violence or unexpected generosity interrupting their fundamental solitude.

—Juliet Clark

• Written by Jacques Prévert, based on the novel by Pierre Mac Orlan. Photographed by Eugen Shufftan. With Jean Gabin, Michèle Morgan, Michel Simon, Pierre Brasseur. (91 mins, In French with English subtitles, B&W, 35mm, From Institut Français, permission Rialto Pictures)