Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Aventure Malgache

[Seikkailu Madagascarilla]. GB 1944 [unreleased at the time]. PC: Un film Phoenix Londres / Ministry of Information [GB]. D: Alfred Hitchcock. SC: Jules François Clermont (story material), Angus MacPhail (n.c.). DP: Günther Krampf. PD: J. Charles Gilbert. M: Benjamin Frankel. C: Théâtre Molière [Paul Bonifas (Michel, Chef de la Sûrété), Paul Clarus (Jules François Clermont), Jean Dattas (man behind Michel reading a telegram), André Frère (Pierre), Guy Le Feuvre (the General), Paulette Preney (Yvonne)]. Version originale française. 32 min. A BFINA print with electronic subtitles in Finnish by Lena Talvio viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Alfred Hitchcock), 5 September 2012.  

Background information from correspondence published in Senses of Cinema: "Mons. Jules François Clermont was a French lawyer who practised in Madagascar, was imprisoned by supporters of the Vichy government, escaped and worked for the British through “Madagascar Libre” broadcasts from Mauritius. Later, he came to London with Paul Bonifas’ Moliere Theatre."

"From the very beginning the idea failed to win the support of French Section and representatives of the French Resistance here in London, but the film was completed. When it was shown to the film officer and his staff in Paris, however, he advised against its release and the project was abandoned."

Because of alleged defamation issues this unreleased movie was extremely difficult to see for fifty years.

Howard Maxford synopsis: "Members of the Molière Players are preparing to go on stage when one of them begins to recall his adventures with the Resistance in Madagascar, which involved manning an illegal radio station denouncing the Vichy regime, which was colluding with the Nazis."

Totally different from Bon voyage, which is a grim and surprising Resistance / espionage drama.

Not a good movie, Aventure Malgache is also full of surprises as it moves into To Be Or Not To Be territory. There are Michel Simon jokes about Jean Michel, head of the security service. There is a juicy trial sequence. Immediately upon the news about the occupation of France there are plans for resistance - only the general is not very brave. A would-be rebel is pardoned by Pétain because he is a veteran of Verdun. Aventure Malgache is not effective, moral boosting propaganda; it is almost a satire on the disunity among the Frenchmen. "The drama is over - let's get on the stage!"

A fair print.

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