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The most celebrated example of the doom-laden, darkly shadowed “poetic realism” that flourished in France in the years leading up to World War II. Jean Gabin is the honest, timid workingman who, hiding from the police in an attic room, spends the night remembering the events that led him to murder. The screenplay is by Jacques Prevert, the most accomplished dialogist of the period, and the famous sets, with their overtones of German expressionism, are by Alexander Trauner. Only the direction, by Marcel Carne, seems less than it could be; there's a lack of imagination and suppleness in the images that pulls the film down. With Jules Berry, Arletty, and Jacqueline Laurent (1939). In French with subtitles.

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