Wednesday, October 08, 2008

La merveilleuse journée

Merkillinen matka. FR 1928. PC: Cinéromans–Films de France. D+SC: René Barberis - based on the play by Yves Mirande & Gustave Quinson (1922); DP: Raoul Aubourdier; AD: Georges Quénu [?]; filmed: Cannes; Studios Cinéromans, Joinville; cast: André Roanne (Blaise), Dolly Davis (Gladys), Renée Veller (Geneviève), Sylvio de Pedrelli (Felloux), Marcel Lesieur (Dr. Gébus), Léon Larive (Pinède), Reine Derns (Léocadie Pinède); 2250 m /22 fps/ 90 min; print: AFF/CNC. Original in French with e-subtitles in English and Italian, grand piano: Philip C. Carli. Viewed at Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone, Cinema Verdi, 8 October 2008. - Lenny Borger: "For an all-too-brief moment in the late 1920s, René Barberis basked in a warm glow as a promising commercial comedy director. His films pleased for their infectious humor, nontheatrical acting, and elegant visuals. Barberis had been to a good school: as an assistant director at the powerful Cinéromans-Films de France studios (...), he had worked closely with Henri Fescourt (...). The international success of the Hugo epic, along with Fescourt’s patronage, helped project Barberis into the director’s chair. (...)
Barberis found his mark with his third film, La Merveilleuse journée, a breezy adaptation of a 1922 stage comedy by Yves Mirande (...) and theatrical entrepreneur Gustave Quinson. Mirande and Quinson had struck box-office gold with their earliest Boulevard collaboration, Le Chasseur de Chez Maxim’s (1920), a play so popular it has been filmed no less than five times since 1926! La Merveilleuse journée was filmed a mere three times, but the Barberis version was the first and best. And it starred the romantic comedy couple of the moment, Dolly Davis and André Roanne.
Usually playing the sophisticated young man-about-town, Roanne here is a timid Harold Lloyd-type, a pharmacist’s assistant in a Côte d’Azur backwater who one day gets stuck on board the yacht of a depressed millionaire who had been consulting Roanne’s employer and a local quack doctor (shades of Dr. Knock!). Entertained by Roanne’s refreshing naïveté, the bored tycoon invites him to join the entourage as his private secretary. They set sail for Cannes, where Roanne discovers the high life of luxury hotels and casinos, courts the mysterious beauty who lives across the hotel corridor, and almost without knowing it wins a fortune at the baccarat table, only to lose it again to his wealthy employer...
Despite some less than successful moments of physical farce, La Merveilleuse journée was above-average romantic comedy, beautifully photographed by Cinéromans cameraman Raoul Aubourdier. Barberis directed the actors smartly and kept the Roanne-Davis star package fresh by pairing each with a different romantic foil. Even the foreign press in Paris warmed to the picture. Variety, usually so contemptuous of French films in the 1920s, called it “snappy and diverting” and “excellently acted”. (...)" – Lenny Borger. - AA: Having seen the beginning only I agree with LB that this looks like a charming and witty romantic comedy. Fun with the desperate doctor and pharmacist in a town which is so healthy that they risk going out of business. Fun with the love-hungry pharmacist's wife always putting her hands and more at the poetic pharmacist's assistant. Fun with the millionaire and his "ennui incurable". "Nous partons pour Cannes".

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