Les Enfants du Paradis (1945)

Les enfants du paradis / Children of Paradise
Two-Part Feature Film | Drama | France | French | 3h10m
Dir: Marcel Carné | Scr: Jacques Prévert | Ph: Roger Hubert | Prod: Adrien Remaugé | Mus: Maurice Thiriet | Ed: Henri Rust | AD: Léon Barsacq, Raymond Gabutti, & Alexandre Trauner | Cast: Arletty, Jean-Louis Barrault, Pierre Brasseur, Pierre Renoir, María Casarès, Gaston Modot, Fabien Loris, Marcel Pérès, Pierre Palau, Étienne Decroux, Jeanne Marken

Against the backdrop of 19th century Parisian theatre life, a great beauty has a lasting effect on the lives of four disparate men: a brilliant mime, who falls debilitatingly in love with her, rendering him unable to accept the love of his own admirer; a womanising Shakespearean actor, who briefly shacks up with her in a somewhat passionless affair; a rich and powerful count, who saves her from a spurious criminal charge, and subsequently takes her to see the world; and a flamboyant criminal, whose mischievous meddling brings to a head all of their various entanglements. The epic sweep of Carné’s feted film is often intoxicating, and there are plenty of small, enjoyable moments throughout to excite. However, Arletty never really convinces as a great beauty, nor Brasseur as a great actor (though he does brilliantly capture his character's caddish side). Plus, much of the staging, and some of the dialogue, feels more than a tad staid. Entertaining but uneven, then.