On the cusp of WW1, a noted womaniser, Armande de la Verne (Gerard Philippe) wagers he can seduce any woman. His chosen target is divorcee Marie-Louise Rivere (Michele Morgan) and the battle is on. The looming threat of war is a backdrop to the 'manoevres' in the seduction but the Don Juan meets his match as he falls heavily for the beautiful and feisty Marie-Louise.
Well, then French farce … well spun light froth! A joy to see Brigitte Bardot so young – before the worst of the “sex kitten” studio nonsens - and Michèle Morgan impressively contained with depths of her own. My reaction to Gérard Philipe in this presentation was initially “what a right shocking bat eared little twerp” but he put on strength as the film progressed towards its shocking ending … or the more shocking alternative ending. The film as a whole gained weight and éclat as it went on – beautifully filmed and played - farce; four stars rather than five?
The accompanying “documentary” about M’selle Bardot is horrid – adulatory, meaningless Hollywood pap – avoid! Meanwhile, making comparison with M. Clair’s 1941 “Flame of New Orleans” – made in the USA with Marlene Dietrich – it was refreshing to see him back on native ground with a sharper, faster story. When I saw the earlier film I wondered how far he and Dietrich had been constrained by production and studio values to make a rather wooden, flat footed film … in 1941 there was no other refuge but Hollywood!