mfunk9786 wrote:aside from The Story of a Cheat, the other films seem like they could be rather dry and antiquated
A month or two before Criterion announced this set I had a copy of the 8 disk French "L'Age D'Or" Guitry set shipped across the Atlantic to me. So far I have watched 6 of the 8, 3 that are in the Eclipse and 3 that are not.
I haven't found any of them to be at all dry. Of course, as that one review's use of the term "wordsmith" might suggest, this may rely on how Guitry's dialog strikes you. I find it very amusing / funny, to the point where Le Roman d'Un Tricheur
(The Story of a Cheat
) (for as good and interesting as it was; and it was, I liked it a lot) was actually the one that made me laugh the least. The near total narration precludes the back and forth dialog and the periodic in-the-moment rant that are primary sources of my giggles / laughs in Guitry's work.
I should probably mention that, while I'm nowhere near fluent enough to turn off the subtitles, French is the closest thing that I've got to a second language. So I catch more of the dialog more directly than is in the subtitles. That probably helps some. Guitry tends to have dialog in greater volume at greater speed than subtitles will ever be able to fully render. It's bit like what I imagine it would be like to need subtitles for His Girl Friday
. (Of course, I don't know how the subtitles that I'm seeing on the French disks relate to those on the Eclipse set.)
Les Perles de la Couronne
/ The Pearls of the Crown
seemed as quick and inventive as Tricheur
to me. Certainly it is as far away from anything that you would expect from anyone who normally works in live theater. It's something that could only be attempted in cinema. The scene with Arletty in full body "black" makeup as the queen of Abyssinia almost makes Al Jolson seem racially sensitive; but the saving grace here is that *everybody* is being played a bit farcically.
looks a bit more like something that may have originally been envisioned as a play. I don't mean in terms of how he uses the camera, just in terms of limiting the locations to one house for the first third or so and another one house for the last half or two thirds. It's a cross between a sex farce and a comedy of manners. It definitely would not have flown in Hays Code era American movies; very "Pre-Code" in subject matter. It made me laugh more than the other two mentioned. The movie also benefits from having Guitry (the actor) play opposite Arletty for a fair amount of time. Jacqueline Delubac (Guitry's wife at the time) is in *all* of these movies to some degree or other (the previous two movies discussed are actually probably her smallest roles that I've seen). She's nice to look at, and she does what is asked of her well enough. But there's a reason why Guitry never gives her the volume of verbiage that he throws at himself and some others. Arletty gives him someone more in his own "weight class" to play off of.
I haven't gotten around to watching Quadrille
The other three that I've seen are more obviously former stage plays. Not that it looks like a taped stage performance, but in much the same way that 12 Angry Men
was. There's extremely little in the way of "opening out" of the settings in those three. I still find them to be a lot of fun. I just really like his dialog; it makes me laugh. He does seem to like to write large chunks of plays / movies as a series of dialogs .... in the literal sense of being one-to-one conversations. For me, it works. Then again, since these aren't in the Eclipse set, this paragraph is fairly irrelevant.