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Hôtel du Nord

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hôtel du Nord
Hôtel du Nord.jpg
Film poster
Directed byMarcel Carné
Written byJean Aurenche
Eugène Dabit
Henri Jeanson
Produced byJean Lévy-Strauss
StarringAnnabella
Arletty
Louis Jouvet
CinematographyLouis Née
Armand Thirard
Edited byMarthe Gottie
René Le Hénaff
Release date
  • 10 December 1938 (1938-12-10)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryFrance
LanguageFrench

Hôtel du Nord is a 1938 French drama film directed by Marcel Carné that stars Arletty, Louis Jouvet, Annabella, and Jean-Pierre Aumont.[1] It tells the story of two couples in Paris, one being a prostitute and her pimp and the other two young lovers without regular jobs. A work of poetic realism, cinematography, music, and dialogue add a poetic dimension to the lives and surroundings of working-class people.

Plot

At the Hôtel du Nord in a working-class district of Paris, a first communion party unites many of the occupants. Among them is the prostitute Raymonde, whose pimp Edmond stays in their room to develop some photographs he has taken. A young couple, Renée and Pierre, enter and take a room for the night. Once alone they run through their plan to kill themselves, as they can't afford to marry and set up home. Pierre shoots Renée with a pistol, but can't then kill himself. Hearing the shot, Edmond breaks into the room and tells the boy to flee. Later, he finds the pistol the boy had dropped.

Ambulance and police are called and the unconscious Renée is rushed to hospital. Edmond tells the police that she was alone when he entered the room, but they do not believe him. After an emergency operation, Renée comes to and learns that Pierre is in custody for attempted murder. She says it was a suicide pact, but the police do not believe her.

When she goes back to the Hôtel du Nord for her things, the owners offer her a room and a job. Her pretty face having been in all the newspapers, she attracts customers and in particular the attention of Edmond. He had planned to get out of Paris with Raymonde, who warned him that two released criminals were out to kill him, but instead starts courting Renée. He confesses his criminal past to her and she agrees to run away with him. As she and Robert are about to board a ship for Egypt, she slips away and goes back to the Hôtel du Nord. There she learns that the case against Pierre has been dropped, so he will soon be freed.

As the locals drink and dance in the street on the 14th of July, Edmond returns from Egypt and Renée warns him that the two criminals are waiting for him in the hotel. Going upstairs he finds one of the criminals asleep on the bed and, in a suicidal gesture, throws him Pierre's pistol. With all the noise and jollity outside, nobody hears the shot as Edmond is killed and the murderer disappears. Just released from prison, Pierre arrives and is reunited with Renée.

Cast

Development

After the controversy over the army deserter in Port of Shadows, Carné wanted to steer clear of anything with political implications for his next film. With Hotel du Nord, Carné reduced any politics to that of the romantic relationships. In 1938, Carné developed Eugène Dabit's novel Hotel du Nord into a film treatment. Dabit's book was popular in France and had won the 1929 Populist Prize. The author was the son of the owners of the real Hotel du Nord which, like the film, was located along the Canal Saint-Martin in Paris. Dabit was never able to see the film, having died of scarlet fever in 1936.

Carné initially thought of his friend Jacques Prévert to write the screenplay but he was busy with other projects. He then turned to Jean Aurenche and Henri Jeanson to write the script. They readily agreed and were excited by the idea of a modest Parisian hotel with a cast of colorful characters.[2] Carné and his roommate Maurice Bessy (editor of French movie magazine Cinémonde), went to the real Hôtel du Nord to soak up the atmosphere and get inspiration for how the film should look. Bessy later wrote an article about the visit that was published in the August, 1938 edition of Cinémonde.

For the leading role, Carné's production company Sedif suggested a rising young actress with the innocent beauty and looks that was so popular in films of the time. Annabella's previous pictures had sold very well in the European market and she even had an offer to make a film in Hollywood.[2] She was paired with Jean-Pierre Aumont. They had previously played star-crossed lovers in Anatole Litvak's 1935 film L'Equipage.[3]

For the role of doomed pimp Edmond, Carné selected Louis Jouvet with whom he had previously directed in Drole de Drame(1935). For the vindictive Raymonde, Carné chose Arletty. Carné would go on to cast her in four of his subsequent films. Jouvet and Arletty are remembered as French cinema's most iconic pairing with their darkly comic bickering making up the most memorable moments of the film.[3]

Filming

Because of the political complications of the time (Hitler's recent invasion of Czechoslavakia), the filmmakers wanted to shoot quickly to avoid any delays that could be caused by the outbreak of war.

Carné and his producer Joseph Lucachevitch, thought that it would be too difficult to shoot the film in its real location on the Canal Saint-Martin. Instead, they reconstructed the hotel and canal at the Billancourt Studios. For the canal, they actually dug ditches and filled them with water on land outside the studio that was owned by the local cemetery. Lucachevitch invited journalists and French society to an event held at the set to promote the film in the summer of 1938.[2]

The film required elaborate set pieces, but the film's most elaborate sequence is the nighttime Bastille Day street celebration as it required over four hundred extras.[4]

Reception

The film was previewed on December 10, 1938, at the Cinema Marivaux in Paris. Critics applauded the film as "sunny" and noted Carné's elaborate staging. Contemporary critics had a mixed response to the film. Time Out called it, "a very likeable film, but...Carné's 'poetic realism' seems a trifle thin and hesitant in this populist yarn about a sleazy Parisian hotel and its inhabitants."[5] Film critic Richard Roud called Hotel du Nord "delightful but unimportant."[6] Senses of Cinema noted that Hotel du Nord has been ignored by contemporary critics because it came between Carné's two masterpieces Port of Shadows and Le jour se lève.[6]

Legacy

It is in this film that Arletty says the famous line, "Atmosphère ! Atmosphère ! Est-ce que j'ai une gueule d'atmosphère ?" ("Atmosphere! Atmosphere! Do I look like an atmosphere?"). It became one of the most famous lines of French cinema history.[3]

“The words sound like they came out of a conjurer's hat. It is the same in all languages. I can't say it or hear it anymore. Besides, it no longer belongs to me. It belongs to the public and I know that in the mouths of many strangers, it is a pledge of their friendship. When I reread the novel by Eugène Dabit from which the film is based a little later, I saw that these words were not mentioned there once. It was a pure invention of Jeanson . A poet's find." - Arletty[7]

According to Marcel Achard: “Jeanson's dialogue is overwhelming. It is the best of all those he has done to date, and it is the most varied, the simplest, the most airy, the most brilliant of all the dialogues of cinema ”[8]

While Arletty and Marcel Achard refer to the screenwriter Henri Jeanson as the author of the famous line, in his film, Voyage through French Cinema (2016), Bertrand Tavernier says that it would have been the screenwriter Jean Aurenche who would have slipped in this line, in response to the reproach that Marcel Carné addressed to him repeatedly for making films “which lack atmosphere.” However, as Jacques Lourcelles points out in his Dictionary of Cinema, this line highlights less the strength of the dialogue, but rather the genius of Arletty who, from a line which could have been rather heavy, succeeded in creating an unforgettable line which became a symbol of Parisian banter.

Marcel Carné, himself, writes in his book of memories, "La Vie à Belles Dents,“ "It must be said that Arletty was the soul of the film. Not only did she transcend certain lines, certain author's words that I hardly liked because of their outrageous style, like the famous “Atmosphere” to which her talent, her artistic magic, made her a success that we remember."[9]

Arletty said, “Nothing is out of fashion in this movie. Not a sentence. Not a word. This is not slang - slang goes out of fashion - it 's pictures. There is nothing to take away, nothing to put back. It is a piece "made", a score."[10]

Adaptation

L'Hôtel du Nord is a novel by Eugène Dabit, the first Prix du Roman Populiste, and is a loose collection of sentimental tales about simple people residing in a hotel. The novel begins with Monsieur and Madame Lecouvreur buying and transforming a rundown hotel. The film begins with the hotel already up and running and gives no real mention of how the hotel came about. So too, the novel ends with the Lecouvreur's reluctantly selling the hotel to a large company that plans to construct an office building on the site and the tenants must unhappily leave and separate. The film's ending is entirely modified and not only is the hotel not being demolished, but the film ends with the sense that this place and the people there are left standing in time untouched by the outside world. So too, the film focuses on criminals, prostitutes, and vagabonds, and develops the novel's sentimental, rather than political, themes.[4]

References

  1. ^ Gates, Anita (2011). "New York Times: Hôtel du Nord". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Baseline & All Movie Guide. Archived from the original on 20 May 2011. Retrieved 3 August 2008.
  2. ^ a b c "Le film - Hôtel du Nord". www.hoteldunord.org.
  3. ^ a b c Travers, James (28 August 2011). "Review of the film Hôtel du Nord (1938)". frenchfilms.org.
  4. ^ a b Turk, Edward Baron (1989). Child of Paradise: Marcel Carné and the Golden Age of French Cinema. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. pp. 129–131.
  5. ^ "Hôtel du Nord". Time Out London.
  6. ^ a b Fossen, Inge (11 December 2013). "Hôtel du Nord, Marcel Carné, film analysis".
  7. ^ Quote from Arletty at letter A on page 19 of Les Mots d'Arletty collected and presented by Claudine Brécourt-Villars, éditions de Fanval, Paris, 1988 ( ISBN 2869282028 )
  8. ^ "I Am as I Am," memories of Arletty established with the collaboration of Michel Souvais, Vertiges du Nord / Carrère editions, May 1987, Paris ( ISBN 2868044042 ) . Page 127: extract from Marcel Achard's quote published in the daily Paris-Soir when the film was released.
  9. ^ Marcel Carné, La Vie à belles dents, Éditions Jean-Pierre Olivier, Paris, 1975, page 137.
  10. ^ Quote from Arletty at letter H on page 63 of Les Mots d'Arletty collected and presented by Claudine Brécourt-Villars, éditions de Fanval, Paris, 1988 ( ISBN 2869282028 )

External links

This page was last edited on 9 April 2022, at 03:12
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