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Customer Review

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Mood, Characters and Restoration..., 6 July 2012
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This review is from: Quai Des Brumes (DVD) (Digitally Restored) [1938] (DVD)
Director Marcel Carne, here in just pre-war 1938, made many notable films but for many World Cinema devotees, he is an unknown, or in my case, a newcomer. His Les Enfants de Paradis (1946) is one of the most enchanting and beautiful of all French films, from any period and remains one of my all-time favourites.

However, I find his feature films with Jean Gabin a rather jagged little pill. In both his later Le Jour Se Leve and here, Gabin plays rather unlikeable lead roles and I find him difficult to warm to. Though in this case, assisted by screenwriter Jacques Prévert, as army deserter "Jean", he certainly is a complex fellow, whose psyche snaps back and fore as his bewildered despondency on life puts up barriers and communication to others.

There's a visual semblance in Gabin of a cross between Spencer Tracey and James Cagney (to my eyes) and also almost in their usual characters - the caring, humane Tracey and the snarling Cagney. Michelle Morgan plays the dark and beautiful Nelly and the two floating into love seems as fleeting and ephemeral as the shifting mists of the title - translated as 'Port Of Shadows'.

That Port is Le Havre and the evocative cinematography is the film's finest feature, a real mood-piece that eschews a clammy emptiness. The tonal range of Eugen Schüfftan's black & white camerawork is superb and is fully realised by this digital restoration, without blemish or flaw.

The dog that tags on is a nice touch and suits Gabin's character - restless, looking for both company and opportunity but I'm afraid I couldn't settle with the false-bearded Michel Simon, with that hair-piece visibly having gaps in it. A small point to moan about, if one is totally content with the rest of the film but when one isn't totally, these little things stick out like a sore thumb and become annoying.

There is no doubt that Le Quai des Brumes is a very good film, that is loved by many and this release is the one to get, unless one goes for the blu-ray, of course. That it didn't totally do "it" for me is down to personal choice, though.
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Review Details

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Reviewer

Tim Kidner
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   

Location: Salisbury, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 389