We're looking for contributors

Jean Gabin on TCM: GRAND ILLUSION, PEPE LE MOKO, TOUCHEZ PAS AU GRISBI

Jean GabinJean Gabin was France's answer to Humphrey Bogart, many (English-language) historians have claimed. Either that, or Gabin was France's answer to Spencer Tracy. Never mind the fact that Gabin was a major international star before either Bogart or Tracy achieved Hollywood stardom. In other words, if there was someone emulating someone else, it was Bogart and Tracy who followed the Frenchman's lead so as to become the American Jean Gabins.

Turner Classic Movies is devoting a whole day to Jean Gabin's movies today, August 18, as part of its "Summer Under the Stars" series. [Jean Gabin Movie Schedule.] Right now, TCM is showing Julien Duvivier's Pépé le Moko (1937), the tale of a Parisian gangster (Gabin) hiding in Algiers' Casbah neighborhood, but who becomes careless after he falls for a beautiful woman (Mireille Balin, Gabin's co-star that same year in Jean Grémillon's Gueule d'amour / Lady Killer).

Those whose idea of cinema begins and ends in Hollywood will probably recognize that tale from a John Cromwell-directed 1938 Charles Boyer vehicle titled Algiers (1938), which also featured Hedy Lamarr in her first English-speaking role. Pépé le Moko isn't the greatest movie ever made, but it would be an appropriate introduction to the Jean Gabin of the 1930s, as Gabin's movie characters met tragic endings with pathological frequency.

Next in line is Jean Renoir's Grand Illusion (1937), notable as one of the most widely revered cinematic works of the last 100 years, as one of the first films to make use of deep focus (making scenes look more "realistic"), and as the very first non-English-language film to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Is it that good? Well, its anti-war intentions certainly are; personally, I find it a little too slow-moving. In fact, deep focus or no, I much prefer Renoir's The Rules of the Game (1939) and The River (1951).

Much like Bogart and Tracy, who usually played Bogart and Tracy, Gabin plays Gabin in Grand Illusion, as one of several French POWs who attempt to escape from a German prisoner-of-war camp during World War I. The film's acting honors go to Pierre Fresnay as an aristocratic French POW and to Erich von Stroheim as an aristocratic German prison camp commander.

Renoir's La Bête Humaine (1938) stars Gabin as another doomed male. Those who believe that film noir, with its play of light and shadows, began with John Huston's The Maltese Falcon might want to check this one out. Married to an older, unattractive man (Fernand Ledoux), Simone Simon is the woman who destroys our antihero. Sounds familiar? Before you say that Renoir and fellow dialogue writer Denise Leblond stole the idea from some James M. Cain novel, bear in mind that the author of the novel on which La Bête Humaine was based was called Émile Zola (1840-1902).

Touchez Pas au Grisbi (1954) is a gangster thriller that I always get mixed up with Jules Dassin's heist thriller Rififi (also 1954). Jacques Becker directed the generally well-regarded Grisbi, which also features Lino Ventura and a very young Jeanne Moreau. I haven't watched Henri Verneuil's Des gens sans importance / People of No Importance (1955), about an illicit love affair. Françoise Arnoul co-stars.

If you found Jean Gabin on TCM: GRAND ILLUSION, PEPE LE MOKO, TOUCHEZ PAS AU GRISBI an informative post, please recommend it to your friends. See share buttons above and on the left.
And consider following Alt Film Guide on Facebook and/or joining the FB group All About Movies.
Jean Gabin on TCM: GRAND ILLUSION, PEPE LE MOKO, TOUCHEZ PAS AU GRISBI © 2004-2015 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s). Text NOT to be reproduced without prior written consent.

Continue Reading: Jean Gabin Movie Schedule: LA BETE HUMAINE, LE JOUR SE LEVE, LA BANDERA

Previous Post: Humphrey Bogart Movie Schedule: BEAT THE DEVIL, TOKYO JOE


You can leave your comment about Jean Gabin on TCM: GRAND ILLUSION, PEPE LE MOKO, TOUCHEZ PAS AU GRISBI in the space below. Important: Different views and opinions are perfectly fine, but courtesy and respect are imperative. Abusive, bigoted, baseless (spreading misinformation), and/or inflammatory comments will be deleted, and such commenters may be banned.

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

2 Comments to Jean Gabin on TCM: GRAND ILLUSION, PEPE LE MOKO, TOUCHEZ PAS AU GRISBI

  1. Andre

    Many thanks, Chuck.
    I'll make sure to check out your Jean Gabin book.

  2. Hey, Andre --

    I like your article about Jean Gabin -- it's great. I have never thought about that before, but you're right -- Bogart and Tracy were emulating Gabin, and not the other way around! (PS, We're on the same page when it comes to "Grand Illusion." Important and good and beautifully-made, yes. Gabin's most fast-paced film -- nope!)

    Chuck Zigman,
    Author
    World's Coolest Movie Star: The Complete 95 Films (and Legend) of Jean Gabin, Volumes one and Two (www.jeangabinbook.com)




FROM THE ARCHIVES

DRESSED TO KILL Mary Astor, Academy Award-Nominated SORRELL AND SON: Cinecon 2005
SOULS FOR SALE on Turner Classic Movies
Ann Sheridan
Maria Schell: Actress in GERVAISE, SUPERMAN, Dies
IL GRIDO 1957: Michelangelo Antonioni Neo-Realist Classic
CITIZEN KANE Orson Welles' Oscar for Sale
London's Lesbian & Gay Film Festival 2008 - Tuesday, April 8
Best Films - 1950
MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET at the Academy
Van Johnson: The Gay Boy Next Door
Fredric March on TCM
Cinecon 2009
CASABLANCA Review Pt.5 - DVD: Lauren Bacall Documentary BACALL ON BOGART
THE MARINES ARE COMING - William Haines, Esther Ralston
Gary Cooper-Lilli Palmer's CLOAK AND DAGGER, Hitchcock's SHADOW OF A DOUBT: LACMA's Film Foundation ...
Lucille Ball Centennial on TCM: STAGE DOOR, BEST FOOT FORWARD
Marlene Dietrich on TCM: SHANGHAI EXPRESS, THE SCARLET EMPRESS, THE DEVIL IS A WOMAN
Paulette Goddard Height? Age? Pictures?
William Holden Movies: Two WILD Westerns
Robert Redford: 'The Great Gatsby' and 'The Way We Were'