Talking to a DVD seller about the splendid 1939 French Film Noir Le Jour se Leve,I found out that they had recently tracked down a French Noir with Le Jour star Jean Gabin,which led to me getting ready to once again step into Gabin's Film Noir world.
Getting the US arm of their underworld empire back on track, Henri Ferré (nicknamed 'Le Nantais') is asked by fellow gangster Paul Liski to come back to France and help to uncover why the business is draining cash.Taking charge at a restaurant/cover house, (whose barmaid Lisette has a crush on Ferré) Ferré finds out that the dealers have been selling the drugs at a lower then "advised" price.Putting the dealers in their place, Ferré gets the price of the drugs increased.As Ferré tightens his grip on every part of the underworld business,the police start to pay attention,as Liski begins to fear that he is about to lose his empire.
View on the film:
Lurking in the rotten drug dens,co-writer/(along with Maurice Griffe & Auguste Le Breton)director Henri Decoin & cinematographer Pierre Montazel give the title a rustic,on the spot reporting,documentary earthiness,as black tar and bags of dope are passed across the screen from dealer to user.Casting the movie in an unrelenting fog, Decoin & Montazel make Ferré's return to France a walk into a Film Noir hellhole,by painting Ferré's business investigating in long,lingering shadows,which tighten up as Ferré goes deeper into the underworld.Allowing Ferré to get "hands on" in getting the business back on track, Decoin dips the murky Film Noir into superb stylisation,by lighting Ferré's punch-ups in elegant silhouette,which unveil the bruises that the cops and the gangs get from the grime covered underworld.
Sending Ferré in as a master of the trade,the screenplay by Decoin/Griffe and Auguste Le Breton, (whose novel the film is based on) holds back from filling the bags with exposition,to fire raw,to the point dialogue across the screen,as slang from all sides is shot onto the screen,with the viewer being wonderfully placed to pick up on the slang and dealings on "da street" by themselves.Following every obstacle that Ferré has to break in order to get "the business" on track.
The writers brilliantly balance Ferré's shots of ruthlessness with an abrasive moral code,which whips across the Film Noir shade with an excellent prospected-changing twist ending, which completely changes the perspective that Ferré's morals are seen from.Backed by a shimmering score from Marc Lanjean, Jean Gabin gives a fabulous performance as Ferré.Playing everything close to his chest, Gabin displays a dazzling precision in releasing an unflinching stern,no nonsense belief across Ferré's face,as Ferré sets his sights in getting the Film Noir business back on track.