At the Fine Arts
One more modern illusion lies bloody in the dust. Oh, joy, hear the cannibals gibber! To paraphrase: Jean Gabin has made, not a mediocre picture, not a bad one, but one that is simply stinking, divinely so, my dear.
In most French pictures at least the photography is beautiful. Here a high school movie puts it to shame: there are spots all over the screen, lighting effects are crudely overdone, and the focus is so often artily fuzzy that you squint, swear, and come out with sore eyes.
French pictures are noted for their delicate handling of humor, leavened in with even the most pathetic tragedy. No smiles lurk here; only lines and lines of dead or grim Canadiens. French pictures, and those of Jean Gabin in particular, are almost unique in their unaffected and moving treatment of sorrow. No sorrow lingers here. The acting is ham-ish, and the story laughably obvious.
Not even the often interesting French cult of the soil is present. Absurdly mangled sub-titles assure you that the life of the French Canadians is, down at its firm and far-reaching roots, beautiful to behold. But blizzards and wolf-chewed corpses, ignorance and superstition, somewhat vitiate this argument. See Nazis for a better presentation.
If only there were one beautiful woman, just one, floating across the scene in a filmy dress. But the fat-armed, big-eyed, weak-chinned Mlle. X.--gallantry forbids disclosure of her name--well, after all. If you must go, take a box-lunch and a newspaper.