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May 06, 2022



Marc Allegret - 1953
Icarus Home Video Region 1 DVD

Julietta is the second of two films by Marc Allegret that has just been released as a DVD from a restored print. Perhaps because the stakes were not as high as filming a literary classic, I found this a better film than Allegret's version of Lady Chatterley's Lover. What is surprising is not just how funny this earlier film is, but that it works so well with the literary pedigree and two stars associated with more serious work. Again, Allegret adapted a novel, in this case by Louise de Vilmorin. The author's most famous novel was the basis for Max Ophul's Earrings of Madame de . . .. The screenplay was by Francoise Giroud, whose started as a script-girl on Alleget's Fanny in 1932, later becoming a journalist as well as briefly France's Minister of Culture. Jean Marais is better known for his more somber roles in films by Jean Cocteau, while Jeanne Moreau's only comparable excursion into comedy would come after stardom was established with Viva Maria!.

If Assistant Director Roger Vadim had his way, Julietta would have been the first time Brigiitte Bardot and Moreau would have been in the same film, though not sharing screen time. Dany Robin, who was a popular star at the time has the title role during a year that Bardot had only begun getting credited supporting parts. Julietta is a young woman, 18 years old, engaged to a wealthy older man, and having second thoughts about her engagement. On the train to Paris with her mother and older sister, she notices a cigarette case left behind by a passenger at a stop in Poitiers. The passenger is a well known local lawyer, Andre. Julietta catches Andre but loses her train. Talking Andre into letting her spend the night at his house, Julietta connives to extend her stay as a way of avoid the impending nuptials. Confusion reigns when Andre's fiancee, Rosie, comes to visit.

There are echoes of the classic screwball comedy at work here with Marais frenetically trying to hide the presence of Robin from Moreau, with physical bits such as completely spilling a tray filled with food and drink. Moreau is the hysteria prone fiancee shrieking at the sight of a spider, unexplained noises, a blown fuse while she is taking a bath, and mistaking Marais for a ghostly apparition when he is seen covered in one of the several bedsheets he is carrying. Moreau's performance is the most interesting to watch because it is both atypical, but also because Moreau's face is so smooth and unlined, as if she has yet to become the fully formed actress who would become more formidable a few years later. Dany Robin is attractive but so easily upstaged by Moreau and Marais. Robin's best moment is in the film's opening scene with her pirouetting on the beach towards the camera. A year after Lady Chatterley's Lover, Brigitte Bardot was now a top billed star in France with four of six films released that year, one directed by Marc Allegret.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at May 6, 2022 05:29 AM