LA TRAVERSÉE DE PARIS (1956)

Dir. Claude Autant-Lara

It took director Claude Autant-Lara six years to adapt Marcel Aymé's novella about the uncertainties of life in Occupied Paris. He wanted to cast comedian Bourvil as the experienced smuggler forced to take on painter Jean Gabin as a helper to transport four suitcases of pork across Paris, but neither his producers nor the original author would approve the choice. He got his way by agreeing to cut costs and shoot the film on studio sets in black and white. Those concessions actually improved the film, creating a fantasy world with elements of film noir that emphasized the story's cynical side. As Bourvil and Gabin try to elude the German soldiers, their relationship captures the uncertainties of life during the war. Ironically Bourvil, the actor nobody wanted, who was terrified at the prospect of working with established dramatic star Gabin, almost stole the film and captured Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival. Autant-Lara fell out of favor in the 1960s, after future director François Truffaut labeled him an "impersonal" director, but the enduring popularity of films like this has helped revive his reputation.

LA TRAVERSÉE DE PARIS
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