Brusque cops and femmes fatales: discovering Gilles Grangier’s forgotten noir gem – The Guardian

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His movies here have been a revelation– the late Bertrand Tavernier, the founder of this festival, was constantly a terrific ally of Grangiers– particularly his remarkably dry, amusing, briskly unsentimental lowlife criminal offense melodrama Le Désordre et la Nuit from 1958. Vallois, drily detached and cool at all times, reveals up at the club, where he is to satisfy and fall in love with the mercurial Lucky, who can look troubled and ill one moment, then go to the women space to “wash her hands” and emerge mysteriously brilliant and refreshed. Vallois is quietly startled to find that Lucky is no flophouse habituée– she is a wealthy daddys girl kept by her dad at no less a hotel than the George V. Tiller is one of the women upstaging Gabin; another is the pharmacist who somehow knows Lucky, and that is Thérèse, marvellously played by the feline Danielle Darrieux, who has some entertainingly sparky dialogue with the stolidly sceptical Vallois. He playfully insists on being weighed on the drug stores in-store scales and is mortified at the result: 83.4 kilos.And the 3rd female lead is the vocalist at LOeuf, Valentine, played by the Trinidadian star and anti-racism campaigner Hazel Scott, whose musical interludes are terrifically strong– much more powerful than the “bar acts” in the majority of French crime dramas like this.Gabin has a fantastic walk home in the rain with Lucky, and finally a astonishingly romantic and gentle final vehicle journey with her, where they talk together about Montpensier cherries.

A big feature, and an even bigger pleasure, of this years Lumière movie festival in Lyon is the retrospective for the French master of policiers and criminal activity, Gilles Grangier, a director who enjoyed excellent commercial success in films and later in television from the 1950s to the 80s, dealing with actors such as Jean Gabin and Lino Ventura and the fantastic film writer Michel Audiard (dad of Jacques). He was a working-class film-maker who came up from the streets of Paris, and began in the movies as a stuntman, grip, prop young boy, any task he could get.
His films here have actually been a discovery– the late Bertrand Tavernier, the founder of this celebration, was always a terrific ally of Grangiers– especially his astonishingly dry, amusing, briskly pragmatical lowlife criminal offense melodrama Le Désordre et la Nuit from 1958. Some of the sexual politics looks dated now, particularly the standard rhetoric of slapping females (and females slapping guys), though the three female characters here combine to upstage the male lead– the beau-moche figure of Gabin in his repeatedly wry, worldly-but-not-cynical mode.
Gabin plays Inspector Vallois of the Paris vice team, a guy feared and hated by his duller, milksop colleagues for how rude he is on the phone and for how very efficient he is at collaring bad guys. Vallois is employed when Simoni (Roger Hanin), the dodgy owner of a club called LOeuf, is killed– shot by an unidentified assaulter in a remote woodland area to which he had actually driven late at night, obviously in expectation of a drug offer. The shooting takes place right in front of Simonis German girlfriend, the potential vocalist and highly strung good-time girl Lucky Fridel, played by Austrian star Nadja Tiller. (Its never ever entirely clear if “Lucky” is her offered name or a nickname.) Vallois, drily separated and cool at all times, reveals up at the club, where he is to fall and satisfy in love with the mercurial Lucky, who can look ill and distraught one minute, then go to the girls room to “clean her hands” and emerge inexplicably bright and revitalized. Vallois is silently stunned to find that Lucky is no flophouse habituée– she is a wealthy daddys lady kept by her father at no less a hotel than the George V. However for all that they end up being intimate, Gabins deadpan cop never reveals much emotion or inflammation: after they have sex, he asks brusquely and ungallantly who taught her those “gymnastics”.
Tiller is among the females upstaging Gabin; another is the pharmacist who somehow knows Lucky, and that is Thérèse, marvellously played by the feline Danielle Darrieux, who has some entertainingly sparky dialogue with the stolidly sceptical Vallois. He playfully demands being weighed on the pharmacys in-store scales and is mortified at the result: 83.4 kilos.And the third female lead is the singer at LOeuf, Valentine, played by the Trinidadian star and anti-racism advocate Hazel Scott, whose musical interludes are remarkably strong– much more powerful than the “bar acts” in the majority of French police procedural like this.Gabin has a fantastic walk home in the rain with Lucky, and lastly a amazingly romantic and gentle final cars and truck journey with her, where they talk together about Montpensier cherries. Vallois ends up being a keen gardener at his simple rural house (a vision of peaceful retirement far from the world of polices and burglars, which is a little like Melvilles Le Doulos). Le Désordre et la Nuit is a forgotten noir gem.

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Le Désordre et la Nuit, shown as part of a retrospective for the terrific thriller director at Lyons Lumière film celebration, is a well-crafted treat for fans of the genre

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