La baie des anges | Bay of Angels
DIRECTOR: Jacques Demy | WRITER: Jacques Demy | CAST: Jeanne Moreau, Claude Mann, Paul Guers, Henri Nassiet, André Certes, Nicole Chollet | France
I don’t like movies about gambling as a general rule and I was prepared not to like La baie des anges, but I actually kind of liked it and I could even see myself really, really liking it weren’t for some little things like an uneven screenplay and occasionally amateurish directing and acting. But what’s good is really good, so let’s start at the top: Jeanne Moreau. She is superb as a beat-up looking gambling addict (and probable alcoholic) who lives for the high she gets at the roulette tables. With her Marilyn Monroe-esque platinum flip and Cardin suit and day dress she lives to win big, blow lots of cash on hotel suites and fancy dinners, only to lose whatever’s leftover the next day back at the casino. She falls into an almost love relationship with a neophyte gambler, a young bank clerk from Paris named Jean (Claude Mann, a kind of Gallic Tony Perkins except that he can’t act), who knows better but can’t help being sucked in. Aside from Moreau, the other really big plus is the cinematography which is an eye popping black and white. Michel Legrand’s score is Liberace with 1001 Strings schlock but it’s fun. Filmed on location in Cannes, Nice, Monte Carlo and the rest, and the title sequence is something to get your juices going: it’s *POW*. But the screenplay sucks and Claude Mann made me wince whenever he tried to emote and act; he should have just stood there looking boyish and vaguely unhinged: he’s a natural at that.