Monday, August 12, 2019

Jean Gabin's Inevitable Bad Fate

I have a dilemma.  I am a big fan of French actor Jean Gabin, but am not a big fan of the melancholy and fatalism that often accompany the actor's experiences on screen.  I recently saw a Gabin double feature, Le Jour Se Lève (1939) and Des gens sans importance (1956).  The English language titles are, respectively, Daybreak and People of No Importance.  In either film, the storyline takes a contrived turn to end up in a tragic place.  The characters make bad choices when more sensible choices are available to them.  The characters, rather than being foredoomed, purposefully steer the tales to a tragic conclusion.  It's as if these heartbreaking endings are something the aloof Gabin demanded as a condition of his contracts. 

But the actor's magnetism makes it easy to look past the gloom.  The most succinct review of a Gabin film consisted of five short words: "Thank god for Jean Gabin."
Here are screen captures from Des gens sans importance.


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