Sunday, December 26, 2010

Quadrille


Based on a True Story (la vie)


Quadrille by Sacha Guitry, 1938:



Let's come right out and state the obvious: Delubac was a Rohmer actress avant la lettre / And what more is there to say about this film in which every line of dialogue rings so absolute that all commentary would seem verbiage, superfluous / Guitry's Quadrille is just another masterpiece / The author plays Philippe de Morannes, editor-in-chief of the daily Paris-Soir; his long-time girlfriend Paulette Nanteuil (the exquisite Gaby Morlay, a Perfect Woman 'of middle-age,' a gestural dynamo, sexual catastrophe, brows plucked into resembling hedgehog spines or a broken promise to Emil Jannings' face in Faust, — she doesn't know the difference between a truth and a lie and I think she'd bring a soupçon of drama to any loved one's deathbed, in the process charm the pants off every witness to the scene; — to speak axiomatically is to affirm Quadrille as her most potent, most erotic performance)... Philippe's Paulette gives up her flesh and a pound of her heart to Hollywood star Carl Herickson (George Grey speaking witness-protection English) during the lothario's whirlwind Paris publicity tour; Philippe and Paulette showdown / These elements more or less comprise the main course in what Andy Rector calls Guitry's banquet / Events followed by the requisite suicide attempt on the part of la signora di tutti which in turn sets the stage for a happy ending (ah, Guitry!) that prefigures ABC's Batman series by twenty-eight years / And then there's the mix-up of letters... — cf. Une femme est une femme and Montparnasse-Levallois by Jean-Luc Godard, who starred in Jacques Rivette's lost 40-minute 1950 film Le Quadrille / "Men don't cheat on their mistresses." / "In your happiness you don't consider yourself unfaithful, whereas I've been cuckolded." / The scene where Guitry walks in on Paulette, confronting her the morning after the tryst and forcing her to explain herself... breathtaking, toxic, astonishing... the scene a great career builds toward, with no equivalent in movies... flaying the truth of the matter / The closest thing (closest and other) is Bergman or Cassavetes / There is no 180-degree rule / The psychography of career-actresses / From the point at the 37-minute mark where this confrontation, Philippe's disquisitions, commence... Guitry settling in with body and breath... till an hour and a minute... there's nothing that can be adequately written about this... / Why write it / Watch it / — "My Philippe, I love you!" "Easy for you to say." "Yes, because it's true!" "Yes, it seems you see no contradiction."

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Quadrille by Sacha Guitry, 1938:












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Previous pieces on Guitry at Cinemasparagus:

The Pearls of the Crown [1937]

Dé-si-ré! [1937]


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