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Julien Duvivier$
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Ben McCann

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780719091148

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719091148.001.0001

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Sound, image, Gabin: Duvivier and the 1930s

Sound, image, Gabin: Duvivier and the 1930s

(p.54) 3 Sound, image, Gabin: Duvivier and the 1930s
Julien Duvivier

Ben McCann

Ben McCann

Manchester University Press

This chapter will begin with an examination of Duvivier’s first ‘talkie’, David Golder (1930) and its central figure of the Jew. It will also discuss whether, consciously or not, Duvivier’s film – along with his two other 1930s so-called ‘Jewish’ films Golgotha (1935) and Le Golem (1935), are anti-Semitic. The chapter will place Duvivier’s work within the generic and aesthetic framework of poetic ealism, for three of his films in particular – La Bandera (1935), La Belle Equipe (1936) and Pépé le Moko (1937) – combine elements of populism and melodrama with an expressionistic mise en scène and a pessimistic narrative structure. The chapter will also look at the importance of the actor Jean Gabin, who starred in all three aforementioned films, and demonstrate how Duvivier uses Gabin’s star aura, as well as the defining traits that can be traced across many of his characters – alienation, helplessness, assertive masculinity, romanticism – to amplify the feelings of hopelessness and stalemate that afflicted large portions of French society after the collapse of the Popular Front in 1937. Duvivier is part of this landscape, and the chapter will explore the interactions between his favoured collaborators like Henri Jeanson, Jacques Krauss, Charles Spaak, and Maurice Jaubert on other technically accomplished and visually impeccable films.

Keywords:   1930s French cinema, Anti-semitism, Sound cinema, Poetic realism, Jean Gabin, Team work

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