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Julien Duvivier: Poetic Craftsman of Cinema

October 2, 2009 - October 31, 2009

Pépé le Moko, October 8, 9

“Genius is just a word; filmmaking is a craft.”—Julien Duvivier

Jean Renoir once proclaimed, “If I were an architect and I had to build a monument to the cinema, I would place a statue of (Julien) Duvivier above the entrance. . . . This great technician, this rigorist, was a poet.” The French director and screenwriter Julien Duvivier (1896–1967), whose astonishingly varied career spanned both Europe and Hollywood, was also championed by Orson Welles, Ingmar Bergman, and Graham Greene. This retrospective offers a rare chance to discover the work of this influential filmmaker.

Working in a darkly poetic realist style—Greene wrote admiringly that “his mood is violent, and belongs to the underside of the stone”—Duvivier made popular melodramas, thrillers, religious epics, comedies, wartime propaganda, musicals, and literary adaptations of novels by Émile Zola, Leo Tolstoy, and Georges Simenon. This exhibition features rarities and revelations, as well as masterpieces starring the great actor Jean Gabin, including La belle équipe (1936), Pépé le Moko (1937), and Deadlier Than the Male (1956). Also featured is Duvivier’s favorite among his films, Poil de Carotte (1932), a heartbreaking chronicle of childhood.

Joshua Siegel
The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Friday, October 2, 2009
6:30 p.m. The Whirlwind of Paris
Julien Duvivier (France, 1927). Judith Rosenberg on piano. This rare silent features Lil Dagover, a star of German Expressionist cinema, as an opera singer who becomes restless in her marriage and longs to return to the Parisian stage. (108 mins)

Friday, October 2, 2009
8:50 p.m. Poil de Carotte
Julien Duvivier (France, 1932). Duvivier’s favorite among his own films is a poignant portrait of a lonely farm boy, a “classic chronicle of childhood.”—Lenny Borger (91 mins)

Sunday, October 4, 2009
4:00 p.m. La vie miraculeuse de Thérèse Martin
Julien Duvivier (France, 1929). Judith Rosenberg on piano. A stark and striking biography of sainted Carmelite nun Thérèse de Lisieux. (113 mins)

Thursday, October 8, 2009
6:30 p.m. Pépé le Moko
Julien Duvivier (France, 1937). Duvivier’s most influential film stars Jean Gabin as a suave Parisian jewel thief who eludes capture by taking refuge in the Casbah. “I cannot remember (a picture) which has succeeded so admirably in raising the thriller to a poetic level.”—Graham Greene (94 mins)

Friday, October 9, 2009
6:30 p.m. Au bonheur des dames
Julien Duvivier (France, 1930). Judith Rosenberg on piano. Depicting the life of a Parisian department store and a small shop trying to survive in its shadow, Duvivier’s final silent film is “an orgy of pure cinema (and an) alternately sincere and cynical hymn to capitalist endeavor.”—Village Voice (c. 85 mins)

Friday, October 9, 2009
8:30 p.m. Pépé le Moko
Julien Duvivier (France, 1937). See October 8. (94 mins)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009
7:00 p.m. Allo Berlin? Ici Paris!
Julien Duvivier (France/Germany, 1932). Young switchboard operators in Paris and Berlin flirt across telephone lines, national borders, and romance languages in this celebration of continental cosmopolitanism between the wars. A major rediscovery that reveals Duvivier’s lighter, more experimental side. (89 mins)

Friday, October 16, 2009
6:30 p.m. La bandera
Julien Duvivier (France, 1935). Duvivier’s sensuous and brooding Foreign Legion melodrama made Jean Gabin a star. “It looks like an exquisite newsreel taken away and baked brown to give you the feel of the air.”—Alistair Cooke (100 mins)

Saturday, October 17, 2009
5:15 p.m. The Great Waltz
Julien Duvivier (France, 1938). Duvivier made his Hollywood debut with this opulent MGM musical, a symphony of lavish set pieces depicting the romantic early years of composer Johann Strauss. (103 mins)

Sunday, October 18, 2009
5:00 p.m. La belle équipe
Julien Duvivier (France, 1936). Made in an era of political and social tumult, Duvivier’s film uses beautifully fluid camerawork, pastoral settings, and popular song to trace five workers’ efforts to rise out of poverty. Jean Gabin leads the ensemble cast. (101 mins)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009
7:00 p.m. La fin du jour
Julien Duvivier (France, 1938). One of French cinema’s most poignant, and caustic, portraits of the world of theater depicts an old-age home for destitute actors who wistfully relive their past triumphs and defeats. With Michel Simon, Louis Jouvet, Victor Francen, and other greats. (100 mins)

Saturday, October 24, 2009
6:30 p.m. La tête d’un homme
Julien Duvivier (France, 1933). Harry Baur stars in “one of the first great screen incarnations of Georges Simenon’s famous sleuth, Inspector Maigret. . . . Both a classic film noir and a seminal police procedural.”—Lenny Borger (98 mins)

Sunday, October 25, 2009
3:00 p.m. Anna Karenina
Julien Duvivier (U.K., 1948). Vivien Leigh stars in Duvivier’s lavish adaptation of Tolstoy’s novel. This gorgeous print highlights Henri Alekan’s moodily atmospheric cinematography. (111 mins)

Thursday, October 29, 2009
6:30 p.m. Holiday for Henrietta
Julien Duvivier (France, 1952). Two screenwriters dispute the fate of their charming heroine in this enchanting classic that sends up the clash between comedy and drama. (118 mins)

Friday, October 30, 2009
8:25 p.m. Deadlier Than the Male
Julien Duvivier (France, 1956). Danièle Delorme plays the quintessential femme fatale, hooking restaurateur Jean Gabin, in “Duvivier’s darkest study of moral depravity.”—Lenny Borger (114 mins)

Saturday, October 31, 2009
6:30 p.m. Pot-Bouille
Julien Duvivier (France, 1957). Adapting a Zola novel, Duvivier creates a scintillating satire of the Second Empire bourgeoisie. The sterling cast is headed by Gérard Philipe and Danielle Darrieux. (115 mins)

Series coordinated at PFA by Susan Oxtoby. Program notes adapted from texts by Joshua Siegel, associate curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and by Lenny Borger.

PFA wishes to thank the following individuals and institutions for their assistance with this retrospective: Joshua Siegel, The Museum of Modern Art; Éric Le Roy and Jean-Baptiste Garnero, CNC French Film Archives; Monique Faulhaber, Cinémathèque Française; Sandrine Butteau and Delphine Selles, Cultural Services of the French Embassy, New York; Christophe Musitelli and Cecile Hokes, French Consulate, San Francisco; Gilles Venhard, Gaumont; René Chateau, Edition René Chateau; Gyslaine Gracieux and Nils Offet, TF1 International; Nathalie Graumann, Société nouvelle de distribution; Archer Neilson; and Christian Duvivier for his support of this project.

Archival prints and musical accompaniment for silent films are presented with support from the Packard Humanities Institute.