by guest writer
Une manche et la belle (1957) is our stop for this Sunday, a filled with atmosphere film noir of the late ’50s. Directed by Armenian origin, Turkey born Henri Verneuil, this is, in my opinion, one of the most accomplished movies of its kind in the French arena of that time. Philippe Delaroche (Henri Vidal) is a down on his luck bank clerk looking to make something out of his boring life. Everything changes when his branch manager suddenly assigns him with a very special task, entertaining a rich, famous local widow.
The changing mood is probably one of the film’s most accomplished and attractive points. Be sure that you will be surprised when you least expect it. Then, the femme fatale character, Eva Dollan, played with no remorse of any kind by actress Mylène Demongeot, is just what many American movies of its kind miss. Henri Vidal is perfect as the man caught up in the hands of a twisting fate. Christian Matras’ cinematography does not miss any trick in order to deliver one of best images of its time. Using tracking shots, long shots, deep focus lenses and brilliant lighting, he succeeds to transform the visual into an art product. What completes the movie even more are the Christian Dior costumes worn by Mylène Demongeot and the French Riviera ever attractive landscape.
photo: movie still | credit: Spéva Films