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on 28 February 2016
I first made the acquaintance (on screen, of course!) of the young and incredibly beautiful Catherine Deneuve in 1963: Le Vice et La Vertu (or Vice and Virtue as it was known in Britain) was my first X film (I was a few months under-age, as I recall) and it was directed by Roger Vadim, whose principal claim to fame seems to have been not so much his directorial talents as his extraordinary list of live-in lovers or wives – Brigitte Bardot (1952-7), Annette Stroyberg (1958-60), Deneuve (live-in lover), Jane Fonda (1965-73), Catherine Schneider (1975-7), Ann Biderman (live-in lover) and Marie-Christine Barrault (1990-2000): four of his ex-wives Bardot, Stroyberg, Fonda, Schneider) attended his funeral in St Tropez in 2000.

The then 19 or 20-year-old Deneuve was ‘Virtue’ and had yet to hit the big time (the all-sung Les Parapluies de Cherbourg the following year was the film that first saw Deneuve in the limelight) and Vice and Virtue, for her director- lover, was her first major role. She still caught the eye in every which way. As I recall, the film is hardly a masterpiece of the big screen and includes some gratuitous voyeurism in a German prison camp during the Nazi occupation of Paris but, for all that, if I could source a DVD or blu-ray with English subtitles I’d like to be able to make a modern judgment.

In any event, Deneuve’s film career now spans well over half a century (she actually made her screen debut in 1957) and she has more than 120 film credits to her name, including Buñuel's masterpiece Belle de Jour (1967) and the epic drama Indochine (1992). Truffaut’s Le dernier metro (The Last Metro) dates from 1980 and won her the first of two César Awards for Best Actress (Indochine was the other). Deneuve is back in Nazi-occupied Paris, but in a very different, worthier role than in that early Vice and Virtue: there is no gratuitous voyeurism in this treatment. Deneuve's role as Séverine in Belle de Jour is both striking and memorable, but here she shows understated nuance and subtlety which helps make this layered love-story one of Truffaut’s most inspired achievements.

Marion (Deneuve) and her Jewish husband and theatre owner Lucas Steiner (Heinz Bennent) have let it be known that he has fled Paris. In reality Steiner is holed up in hiding in the Theatre Montmartre’s cellars. Meanwhile radical actor and womaniser Bernard Granger (Gérard Depardieu) is engaged by Marion to play the lead opposite her in the company’s latest play. As the German oppression intensifies, Marion’s feelings for her husband and her co-star undergo a transformation.

This is a beautiful, cleverly-paced story with stunning performances from these three principals – and a life-affirming twist. Deneuve is the epitome of cool and this is one of her finest films. The blu-ray includes a worthwhile commentary with Depardieu.
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on 12 January 2003
This is one of Truffaut's best films. In his usual gentle and subtle style he tells the story of a theatre and the people working and living in it during WWII - and what an incredible cast he had. Catherine Deneuve - there is no one who had fit better the role of Marion Steiner. It's amazing how much she expresses by saying nothing. Gerard Depardieu - as the young, ambitious actor involved with the Resistance. The two have a very unique chemistry! It is a beautiful movie - and definitely a must see!!
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HALL OF FAMEon 23 August 2007
This is a first-class romantic, suspensful and humane movie. The Germans have occupied Paris and there are informers everywhere. Marion Steiner (Catherine Deneuve), a famous actress, has taken over the management of the theater her husband, Lucas Steiner, an equally famous director, has left. Steiner is a Jew and disappeared shortly after the Germans took over. For the next production Marion Steiner hires a young actor, Bernard Granger (Gerard Depardieu), who loves women and who gradually comes to love Marion.

There are secrets everywhere. Lucas Steiner is hiding and living in the basement of the theater, protected by his wife. He directs the new play through notes to his wife and discussions in the late evening when she visits him. Granger is an member of the resistance who could bring disaster to the theater if he is caught. Marion Steiner is devoted to her husband, but feelings for Granger slowly begin to appear, and are not unnoticed by her husband. All the while life in Paris under the Nazis goes on, the play is prepared and rehearsed, Jewish members of the company are protected or caught or flee. An odious, collaborating journalist and theater reviewer uses his contacts and influence to try to arrange a relationship with Marion. Eventually Bernard leaves the theater for active fighting.

This is something of a romantic movie of choices. At the end of the movie, the Germans are fleeing Paris. Bernard has returned and a new play starring Marion and Bernard is a great success. Lucas is spotted by the audience at the rear of a box and they stand to applaud him. Bernard and Marion bring him to the stage to join them in receiving the ovation for the play. Then Marion moves between the two men, holds their hands, and the three of them stand smiling while the applause roars on. And that's the end. This is, in my view, a very satisfying movie of theater life, of the occupation, and of three people who manage to find their way.
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Although Truffaut had another two films in him, in many ways The Last Metro looks as if it was planned as his last movie, even down to filming a deleted scene (included on the Tartan PAL DVD) where a dying director tries to convince Catherine Deneuve's heroine to star in his last film. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean it sums up his life and work so much as it feels as if the somewhat half-hearted screenplay has been rushed into production without being entirely thought through. Not that its bad - indeed parts of it are quite enjoyable - more that it tends to drift by like exactly the kind of `well-made play' that he once attacked, with the romance barely developed and much of the interest coming from characters on the sidelines, such as Jean-Louis Richard's critic, collaborator and anti-Semitic propagandist. At it's best it comes over like a theatrical variation on Day For Night set against the German occupation (indeed, Richard was DFN's co-writer), without ever quite matching that film's emotional rollercoaster ride.

The transfer is good and the extras on Tartan's original DVD are interesting - 2 contemporary interviews with Truffaut bemoaning the film's 'failure' (despite it's box-office and critical success), footage from the Cesar Awards, trailer and audio commentary by Jean-Pierre Azema and Gerard Depardieu. As with other Truffaut titles previously issued by Tartan, the new Cinema Club DVD drops most of that version's extras but does retain the audio commentary and the trailer, but you'd be better off tracking down the deleted Tartan disc.
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HALL OF FAMEon 15 August 2007
This is a first-class romantic, suspensful and humane movie. The Germans have occupied Paris and there are informers everywhere. Marion Steiner (Catherine Deneuve), a famous actress, has taken over the management of the theater her husband, Lucas Steiner, an equally famous director, has left. Steiner is a Jew and disappeared shortly after the Germans took over. For the next production Marion Steiner hires a young actor, Bernard Granger (Gerard Depardieu), who loves women and who gradually comes to love Marion.

There are secrets everywhere. Lucas Steiner is hiding and living in the basement of the theater, protected by his wife. He directs the new play through notes to his wife and discussions in the late evening when she visits him. Granger is an member of the resistance who could bring disaster to the theater if he is caught. Marion Steiner is devoted to her husband, but feelings for Granger slowly begin to appear, and are not unnoticed by her husband. All the while life in Paris under the Nazis goes on, the play is prepared and rehearsed, Jewish members of the company are protected or caught or flee. An odious, collaborating journalist and theater reviewer uses his contacts and influence to try to arrange a relationship with Marion. Eventually Bernard leaves the theater for active fighting.

This is something of a romantic movie of choices. At the end of the movie, the Germans are fleeing Paris. Bernard has returned and a new play starring Marion and Bernard is a great success. Lucas is spotted by the audience at the rear of a box and they stand to applaud him. Bernard and Marion bring him to the stage to join them in receiving the ovation for the play. Then Marion moves between the two men, holds their hands, and the three of them stand smiling while the applause roars on. And that's the end. This is, in my view, a very satisfying movie of theater life, of the occupation, and of three people who manage to find their way.

I think the DVD looks great, with many of the scenes having a dark, warm look about them.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 13 October 2012
Le dernier metro was one of the first French films I saw (on Oxford Street, unimaginably by today's standards, at the Academy back in 1982 or 83) and I still remember really loving it. Watching it a lot subsequently I came to feel it was rather superficial in its treatment of the Occupation in Paris and the need to live in hiding, and that the emphasis on romance was misplaced when other more important things were going on. It's certainly true that Louis Malle in Lacombe Lucien gets far closer to showing us what it must have felt like to live in that situation, and it doesn't make for comfortable viewing. The romance in that film is in itself highly unsettling, even while having its roots in a desire for escape. In Le dernier metro there is some excellent acting and it is beautifully shot. From the latter point of view I still think it is amazing, but Truffaut was, in a sense, too much in love with cinema per se, too much of an escapist, to be able to deal with the political situation adequately. Drawing together the two strong points I have mentioned is Catherine Deneuve in the lead. She is so incredibly beautiful in this film that no amount of footage and different shots of her can quite capture it; it is as though the camera completely loves her. For me it is the most amazing representation of female beauty in the history of cinema - if such a claim can be meaningfully made - and leads you to think about the importance of this in the way we enjoy films. It is the positive side of a kind of voyeurism, I suppose, to be set against those Hitchcock examples. Here it seems something totally positive and life-affirming, part of the whole cinematic illusion, that such beauty exists and can be framed and partly captured on film like this.
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"The Last Metro" (1980), ("Le Dernier Metro"in the French), a dramatic romance with comic touches, was directed and co-written (with Suzanne Schiffman) by greatly esteemed modern French master filmmaker Francois Truffaut. It opens in 1942, in wartime France, in a Paris that has been occupied by German troops, where the French are mainly just trying to hang on, find food to eat and clothes to wear, and live something resembling their normal lives, while in the hands of the enemy.

It centers on Marion Steiner, an uncannily beautiful actress, as played by Catherine Deneuve(Belle de Jour - 40th Anniversary [1967] [DVD]; The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg [DVD] [1964]). We are told that she was initially a film actress, but now stars regularly at the Theater Montmartre, which was previously owned by her Jewish husband Lucas, played by the ruggedly handsome German actor Heinz Bennent ("The Lost Honour of Katharine Blum"). Lucas was also previously always her director; but he now, supposedly, has fled the Nazis. However, he is actually hidden in the theater's basement, where Marion must feed, comfort and care for him, while continuing to be the theater's star actress; she also must run the theater's business, as he used to do. The third major character in this ensemble picture is the womanizing young actor Bernard Granger, secretly in the Resistance, played by a younger, magnetic, almost handsome Gerard Depardieu (Green Card [DVD] [1991]; The Return Of Martin Guerre [1982] [DVD]). He's been hired away from the Grand Guignol to star opposite her in the theater's latest production, "Disappearance," written by and secretly directed from the cellar by, her husband Lucas. The financial future of the theater depends on the success of this production. A handsome Jean Poirot (Les Carabiniers [DVD] [1964] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]) plays Jean-Loop Cottins, a theater employee who has supposedly stepped in to direct their play. The film received an Oscar nomination, several Golden Globes nominations, and many Cesars (the French Oscar equivalent.)

So it's a film about theater people, struggling to keep their theater alive. There are those who think Truffaut simply used the popular old "let's put on a show, kids," genre as a vehicle to tell his tale about life in occupied Paris: the director was born in 1932, was therefore ten years old at the Occupation - the age of a little boy who features in the story -- and surely had clear memories and first-hand experience of life then. In addition, it is one of the director's last films, and he may have expected it would be his last; his final chance to tell the tales closest to his heart. Others consider it a failing that Truffaut, once at the cutting edge of the new wave ("Nouvelle vague") in French cinema, should have returned to a relatively traditional French format, with beginning, middle and end, and echoes of Marcel Carne, and Jean-Pierre Melville, among his other forebears in French cinema.

It is a wartime love story, and can be considered as a romantic comedy such as was made by these previous directors, a love triangle that plays out as a mature "Casablanca," in fact. It's beautifully filmed, and Truffaut and his cinematographer give you an acute sense of the claustrophobia all the characters, but most particularly Lucas, trapped in his cellar, must have felt under the Occupation. The filmmakers were also influenced by the muted sepia colors that remind us of that time; costumes and the - inexpensive--sets (it was not an expensive film) are muted in color, and, in fact, Truffaut used a less color-saturated film than he usually did in its making. Then there are those, such as my husband, who complain that it's not the film they wanted to see; something more overtly dramatic, more firing squads, etc.; nope, it's the film Truffaut wanted to make. The acting, by the three principals and the supporting players, is superb; and, for once, the astonishingly beautiful Deneuve's perceived coldness works in the movie's favor.

"The Last Metro?" It was the last subway train that could get the city's working commuters home before the curfew imposed on them: to miss it meant an uncomfortable, or possibly dangerous, night out. The well-known French actor Jean Marais, whose real-life thrashing of the pro-Nazi "Je Suis Partout" theater critic Alain Labreaux inspired a scene in the movie, has said that that train was packed with theater people, ` le tout Paris.' The `show must go on' axiom is certainly central to the movie, and the theater, whether physically in the one particular building, or in the abstract, is the most important unaccredited character in the script. The movie is often considered Truffaut's valentine to the theater; however, I myself consider it a somewhat tart valentine. It's not unusual for co-stars, whether in theater or film, to fall in love, as happens here, and Lucas, trapped in his cellar, probably can't prevent it. But he is complaisant: he wants that feeling between the costars in the play in current production, and in the next one he's working on, too. A bitter-sweet French movie, about love for the no longer young, probably best appreciated by the no longer young. And I do love it.
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on 8 November 2003
The film is one of great acheivement by Truffaut, although he stray from his origins of the Nouvelle Vague and becomes slightly hollywoodised. The plot is esentailly simple, with the plight of a Jew in occupied Paris conatining the basis of the plot, although the 2 central characters Marian (Catherine Denueve) and Bernard (Gerard Depardieu) are essentially believable, it does appear that Truffaut has tried to ensure success by introducing the superstars of French cinema.
AN ecellent film, well worh seeing
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As you've probably gathered most of the reviews are for the 'DVD' version of the 1980 French Film “The Last Metro”. And the BLU RAY is available in only two areas. But which issue to buy in you’re living in Blighty?

Unfortunately the uber-desirable USA Criterion release is REGION-A LOCKED - although it doesn't say so on Amazon.
So it WILL NOT PLAY on most UK BLU RAY players unless they're chipped to play 'all' regions (which the vast majority aren't).
Don’t confuse BLU RAY players that have multi-region capability on the 'DVD' front – that won’t help.

Luckily the French issue is REGION B - so that will play on UK machines (even if it’s presently just as costly as its American counterpart).

Check you’re purchasing the right version before you buy the pricey Criterion release...
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on 6 October 2016
It's movies like this one that give French Cinema and the 1980s a bad name. Despite a largely excellent cast's best efforts it comes across almost as a spoof. The dialogue was poor and the plot virtually non-existent. But worst of all, and making it impossible to 'believe', were the 1980s inspired clothing and stubbornly maintained hairstyles (Ms. Deneuve's being a notable if exaggerated exception). It was set during the German Occupation of Paris wasn't it? (think David Bowie in Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence). I kept expecting Michael Jackson and his Thriller dance extras to walk onto the set.
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