Screening Dates
  • January 6 (Saturday) 6:30
  • January 11 (Thursday) 6:30
  • January 14 (Sunday) 8:20
New Restoration

Grémillon was a formalist of impeccable craft whose training as a musician gave him an especially heightened feeling for the rhythms of dramatic structure and the Melos of melodrama. Criminally neglected since his time, his name deserves a place beside Carné’s and Renoir’s.”

Ari Aster

Jean Grémillon, a key figure in Paul Vecchiali’s pantheon of French directors, began working as a pit violinist in the age of silent film. His 1930s melodramas, in turn, balance the influx of new technology—brilliant dialogue written by theatrical talents—with the piercing beauty of wordless images and gestures. Grémillon’s first commercial success stars Jean Gabin (La grande illusion), perhaps the iconic French actor of his generation, as Lucien, the sex symbol of the title. After declining to re-enlist in the Spahi of French-colonized Algeria, Lucien, granted leave in the Riviera, meets Madeleine (Mireille Balin), who promptly rejects his advances. In Grémillon’s hands, this modestly scaled premise—of seduction, rejection, and repression—travels far afield from tearjerker territory. Long before German expressionism reached Hollywood and transmuted into noir, Grémillon was channeling its shadows. The tone of anxious desire, married to what Vecchiali calls Grémillon’s uncompromised lucidity,” culminates in one of cinema’s great endings.

In French with English subtitles

Lady Killer [is] a truly wonderful film … Grémillon shows that he not only knows where or how to place the camera, but that he grasps the mysteries of this world. Each of his films surprises me.”

Hamaguchi Ryusuke

Grémillon [could] stick to the facts without skimping on make-believe … He carefully made the best of each actor’s performance, which he achieved with a technique that was affectionate, carefree, and present.”

Paul Vecchiali