Sunday, August 12
Starring Jean Gabin, Pierre Fresnay and Erich von Stroheim
(1937, Jean Renoir) “I beg you, man to man, come back!” WWI, and it’s a POW camp for French man-of-the-people flyboy Jean Gabin and aristocratic staff observer Pierre Fresnay (Le Corbeau) after they’re shot down by equally aristocratic German Erich von Stroheim. But meanwhile there are escapes – one by tunnel – to be planned; fellowship with Jewish moneybags Marcel Dalio, music hall cut-up Carette, and engineer Gaston Modot; a necessarily all-male musical revue, interrupted by a dramatic announcement; and a reunion with Stroheim at an excape-proof castle keep. Partially inspired by stories of the air ace who had saved Renoir’s life in the war, this was, on the brink of another one, a celebration of the brotherhood of man, across class, across frontiers, as well a kind of elegy for an international aristocracy (Fresnay and Stroheim, going monacle to monacle, speak much of the time in English, a language no one else understands). Best foreign film, National Board of Review and New York Film Critics Circle; Best Overall Artistic Contribution, Venice Film Festival (under Mussolini!); and rare pre-war Oscar nomination for Best Picture. 35mm. Approx. 114 min.
“The supreme antiwar film… an overwhelming experience, with a robust humor and poignancy that tingle afresh in this prematurely grizzled new millennium.”
– Michael Sragow, The New Yorker
“If I had only one film to save, it would be Grand Illusion.”
– Orson Welles