Hôtel du Nord [1938]

7/10 | 1.May.12
Hôtel du Nord

DIRECTOR: Marcel Carné | WRITERS: Jean Aurenche, Henri Jeanson | CAST: Annabella, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Louis Jouvet, Arletty, Paulette Dubost, Andrex, André Brunot, Henri Bosc, Marcel André, Bernard Blier, Jacques Louvigny, Armand Lurville, Jane Marken, Génia Vaury, François Périer, René Bergeron | France

According to things I’ve been reading on the Internets, Marcel Carné’s Hôtel du Nord is both an early French example of film noir and it also takes place in the French countryside. What it is is a semi-sweet ensemble film set in a crummy residential hotel in a working class Parisian neighborhood. I suppose what might arguably make it a film noir is that several of the characters attempt to reinvent themselves by hiding from their past — the movie shows that it’s not really possible to escape from one’s fate — but it’s all done with such a light touch that I don’t think it counts as noir. One of the characters is a young man who cleans his room until it’s spotless: not for a girlfriend as the hotel manager assumes, but for his buddy. (We later see him bump into an old flame of his unexpectedly and the young woman he’s been chatting with excuses herself to let the two boys go off and catch up on what they’ve been doing since last they saw each other.) The star of the movie is in some ways the enormous outdoor set that much of the film takes place in. I found Arletty as irritating as I always do (it doesn’t help her cause in my opinion that she was an opportunistic Nazi lover during the German occupation). There’s something repellent about her, and I’d never noticed before just how physically unattractive she is: she moves as if her shoulders were welded to her torso. It’s very bizarre. Anyway, I liked the movie a lot despite Arletty. Jean-Pierre Aumont and Louis Jouvet also make up for her.

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One comment

  1. […] is the spectacular production design of Alexandre Trauner (his production design for Carné’s Hôtel du Nord was also terrific) and the excellent cinematography of Philippe Agostini. And of course “Les […]

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