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Appendix: Prizes and Awards

Colin Crisp Indiana University Press ePub

Grand Prix du Cinéma Français (GPCF)

Awarded by the Société d’Encouragement à l’Art et à l’Industrie under the patronage of Louis Lumière. Effectively taken over by the state in 1937, it became known in 1939 as the Grand Prix National du Cinéma Français (GPNCF). By then some felt it had become a prize less about quality than virtue. Usually presented in January for films released in the preceding year, it was in 1939 (wisely) awarded in July. The changing terms of reference as to what constituted an eligible French film (e.g., “all collaborators must be French”) often eliminated likely contenders (Les Bas-Fonds, Mayerling, Jenny, Le Crime de Monsieur Lange, etc.) and would retrospectively have eliminated Maria Chapdelaine and La Kermesse héroïque.1

1934

Maria Chapdelaine (Julien Duvivier), over Itto and Zouzou

1935

La Kermesse héroïque (Jacques Feyder)

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1937

Colin Crisp Indiana University Press ePub

(Pépé le Moko); remade as Algiers (1938) and Casbah (1948)

France, 1937, 93 min, b&w

Dir Julien Duvivier; Asst dir Robert Vernay; Prod Paris-Films Productions; Scr Henri Jeanson, from the novel by Detective Ashelbé; Cinematog Jules Kruger and Marc Fossard; Music Vincent Scotto and Mohammed Yguerbuchen; Art dir Jacques Krauss; Sound Antoine Archaimbaud; Edit Marguerite Beaugé; Act Jean Gabin (Pépé le Moko), Mireille Balin (Gaby), Lucas Gridoux (Inspector Slimane), Line Noro (Inès), Fernand Charpin (Régis), Saturnin Fabre (Grandfather), Gabriel Gabrio (Carlos), Marcel Dalio (Arbi), Gilbert-Gil (Pierrot), Gaston Modot (Jimmy), Roger Legris (Max), Charles Granval (Maxime), Fréhel (Tania), Olga Lord (Aïcha), and Renée Carl (la mere Tarte).

In these final years of the decade, a mythic persona accreted around the actor Jean Gabin, and Pépé le Moko is a key film in the construction of that persona. Gabin had been acting in films ever since the point when the coming of sound had generated a need for popular singers (his parents were from music-hall and operetta backgrounds, and during the 1920s, he had appeared in revues and operettas, and at the Moulin Rouge with Mistinguett). Until 1934, however, even when he was acting the tough guy, his films had been lightweight entertainment. Then Julien Duvivier took him up, and after playing a somewhat grotesque Pontius Pilate, cast him in roles where he was basically a good bloke who came to unfortunate ends (La Bandera, #42, and La Belle Équipe, #51). Pépé le Moko added to this mix the themes of alienation and exile, together with a more explicit sense of tragic fatality. We discover Pépé as the leader of a gang in the Casbah, safe in the impenetrable labyrinth of alleyways but unable to leave them—protected by the Casbah but also trapped in it. Attempting to escape, he is betrayed, captured, and commits suicide.

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1934

Colin Crisp Indiana University Press ePub

(Street without a Name)

France, 1934, 82 min (now 78 min), b&w

Dir Pierre Chenal; Asst dir Roger Blin and Louis Daquin; Prod Les Productions Pellegrin; Scr Chenal, Blin, and Marcel Aymé, from the novel by Aymé; Cinematog Joseph-Louis Mundwiller; Music Paul Devred; Art dir Roland Quignon; Sound Jacques Hawadier and A. Puff; Edit Chenal; Act Constant Rémy (Méhoul), Gabriel Gabrio (Finocle), Paul Azaïs (Manu), Enrico Glori (Cruséo), Pola Illéry (Noâ), Dagmar Gérard (La Jimbre), Fréhel (Madame Méhoul), Paule Andral (Louise Johannieu), Robert Le Vigan (Vanoël), Marcel Delaitre (Johannieu), and Pierre Larquey.

This is a typical instance of “the street film,” a subgenre inherited from the German cinema of the 1920s (e.g., Karl Grune, The Street, 1923; Georg-Wilhelm Pabst, The Joyless Street, 1925; Bruno Rahn, Tragedy of the Street, 1927).25 It was to flourish in 1930s France, and the titles of surviving films are indicative of the genre’s focus on harsh street life in the poorer quarters of Paris: Faubourg Montmartre (1931); Dans les rues/On the Street (1933); La Rue sans nom (1933); Jeunesse/Youth (1934); Ménilmontant (1936); La Rue sans joie/The Joyless Street (1938); and L’Enfer des anges/A Hell for Little Angels (1939). Typically this genre exploited the standard melodramatic conventions of such films as Les Misérables and Les Deux Orphelines but combined them with a raw realism often labeled “naturalism.” The teeming, seething squalor of “the street” rendered all too credible the inevitable corruption of innocent youth that was often a central theme, and aimed to evoke not pity for the vulnerable poor, as in melodramas, but rather a sort of fascinated horror.

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1935

Colin Crisp Indiana University Press ePub

(The Mimosa Boarding House)

France-Germany, 1935, 109 min, b&w

Dir Jacques Feyder; Asst dir Marcel Carné and Ary Sadoul; Prod Tobis; Scr Feyder and Charles Spaak; Cinematog Roger Hubert; Music Armand Bernard; Art dir Lazare Meerson; Sound Hermann Storr; Edit Jacques Brillouin; Act Françoise Rosay (Louise Noblet), Paul Bernard (Pierre), André Alerme (Gaston), Lise Delamare (Nelly), Arletty (Parasol), Ila Meery, Nane Germon, Sylviac, Paul Azaïs, Jean Max, Raymond Cordy, and Pierre Labry.

Pension Mimosas was commissioned to exploit Françoise Rosay’s immense success in Le Grand Jeu (#31). Funded by Tobis, it was made without any of the financial anxieties that beset Jacques Feyder’s previous film. It focuses on two thematic fields that were omnipresent and immensely popular in the years 1930–1945, namely gambling and (usually implicit) incest. The pension (boarding house) of the title is a rather elegant establishment not far from the casino. Its proprietors, the Noblets, are childless, and take over as their own son Pierrot, the son of a lodger sent to prison. Released, the lodger reclaims him and he grows up in bad company, obsessed with gambling (at which he loses catastrophically) and with an “unsuitable” woman, Nelly. Attempting to save him, his (adoptive) mother enters into an overt rivalry with Nelly for his affections. To refinance him, she herself gambles and wins big, but too late: Pierrot has committed suicide and dies in her arms.

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1932

Colin Crisp Indiana University Press ePub

Blood of a Poet

France, 1932, 65 min, b&w

Dir and Scr Jean Cocteau; Asst dir Michel Arnaud and Louis Page; Prod Vicomte de Noailles; Cinematog Georges Périnal; Music Georges Auric; Art dir Jean d’Eaubonne; Sound Henri Labrély; Act Enrique Rivero (the poet), Lee Miller (the statue), Pauline Carton, Féral Benga (black angel), Jean Desbordes, and Odette Talazac.

In 1929, the Vicomte de Noailles provided Jean Cocteau, Luis Buñuel, and Man Ray with a million francs each to produce whatever films they wanted to in total liberty. Buñuel produced L’Âge d’or (#3); Cocteau produced Le Sang d’un poète. Initially an animated film had been proposed, but Cocteau rapidly came to see that the necessary techniques were complex and would take much of the control out of his hands. He decided to make a film exploring visually and dynamically the same themes that he had been exploring in his literary works and sketches. His desire for total personal control made him one of the first and most outspoken advocates of what was later to be called auteurism: “A work written by one man and brought to the screen by another is merely a translation. . . . A writer must not let someone else interpret a work written with his left hand, but rather plunge both hands into the work and construct an object in a style equivalent to his writing style.”56

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