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Tuesday, July 19

DCP Restoration

Directed by Claude Autant-Lara

Starring Jean Gabin

(1956) In a cold, hungrily-rationed, blacked-out City of Lights under the Occupation (an experience only a decade past for the contemporary audience), a transaction involving worth-its-weight-in-gold black market pork from crabby, penny-pinching Montmartre butcher Louis de Funès (soon to be France’s long-time top box office draw) is carried out like a modern-day drug deal. But straight arrow ex-cabbie/black-marketeer Bourvil (winner, Best Actor at Venice; legendary in France for his gormless comic persona, known here for his change-of-pace role in Melville’s Le Cercle Rouge) can’t possibly manage the four-bags-full trek across nocturnal Paris himself, so he recruits meat-mooching, garrulous stranger-he-met-at-the-bar Jean Gabin – an adventurer who keeps getting them into, and then hilariously talking them out of, trouble with both the Germans and French police, as Bourvil’s nervous sweat pools in the gutter. But there’s a chilling, class-laden final twist. From the team of screenwriters Jean Aurenche and Pierre Bost (Forbidden Games) and director Autant-Lara, favorite whipping boys of the up-and-coming New Wave – who conceded that this was a masterpiece. Aka A Pig Across Paris.  In French, with English subtitles. DCP Restoration. Approx. 80 mins.


– The New York Times 

“This sardonic anecdote (a novel by Marcel Aymé) is characteristic of its director, both in its sour disposition and its storytelling gusto.”
– Bob Baker, Time Out (London)

– French Film Critics Awards, 1956

“EXPLOSIVELY FUNNY! Bourvil was selected best actor at Venice, but the star of the film is Gabin, lusty and powerful as the man who enjoys life so much he can play games with it. In the middle of sordid little perils, the artist devises quick-witted solutions, and then howls with delight, ‘This pig’s making a genius of me!’ The contrast between him and the terrified, sweating fellow at his side makes you know you’re watching a fable, but Autant-Lara shows class – he doesn’t tie it with a ribbon and hand it to you.”
– Pauline Kael

“A HIGH POINT OF THE FRENCH CINEMA OF THE 1950s! One of the few films about the Occupation that seems to ring true…even the young Truffaut, who had systematically attacked Autant-Lara as the symbol of all that was wrong with the French cinema, recognized that in this film the director has at least ‘found the subject of his life, a script that really suited him.’”
– Richard Roud

“A complete success – [with] the best dialogue that’s been heard for a long time in French film…Don’t laugh too loudly when you see it, or else your neighbor won’t hear the dialogue.”
– François Truffaut

Film Forum