In "Désiré," Guitry gives himself a quite out-of-the-ordinary vehicle. Frankly, I had become rather tired of his usual pater familias-type character, and it is refreshing to see him in the role of a servant -- a wise, extremely sophisticated valet de chambre, but a servant nonetheless. Oddly, this film somewhat calls to mind Genet's "The Maids," in plot and even, strangely enough, a bit in tone (though it's very funny, funnier even than the usual Guitry comedy). Altogether a very unusual Guitry! Jacqueline Delubac is her usual charming self, Pauline Carton (the French Thelma Ritter, one could say) is as always excellent, and Arletty is seen in her only principal role in a Guitry film (though she is also seen in cameos -- one very wild! -- in two other Guitrys). Also excellent in a small but difficult role is Saturnin Fabre. One is hardly conscious that this is "filmed theater." Yes, there is a lot of talk, but the film-making is swift, sophisticated and inventive. Very enjoyable.
Shavian social satire. Odette is an actress who's now the mistress of a government minister. Her household of cook, maid, and chauffeur needs a valet. On the eve of going with the minister ...
November 27, 2020