245 Port of Shadows

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Martha
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245 Port of Shadows

#1 Post by Martha » Tue Dec 28, 2004 12:12 pm

Port of Shadows

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Down a foggy, desolate road to the port city of Le Havre travels Jean (Jean Gabin), an army deserter looking for another chance to make good on life. Fate, however, has a different plan for him, as acts of both revenge and kindness render him front-page news. Also starring the blue-eyed phenomenon Michèle Morgan in her first major role, and the menacing Michel Simon, Port of Shadows (Le Quai des brumes) starkly portrays an underworld of lonely souls wrestling with their own destinies. Based on the novel by Pierre Mac Orlan, the inimitable team of director Marcel Carné and writer Jacques Prévert deliver a quintessential example of poetic realism and a classic film from the golden age of French cinema.

Special Features

• New high-definition digital transfer, with restored image and sound
• Gallery of production stills and promotional posters
• French theatrical trailer
• New and improved subtitle translation
• Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition
• Plus: A 32-page booklet featuring a new essay by cultural historian Luc Sante and a new translation of excerpts from Marcel Carné's autobiography Ma vie à belles dents (My Life with Gusto)

Criterionforum.org user rating averages


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Wow, that was depressing-- particularly since you can see everything coming from about minute five. Not as magnificent as Children of Paradise, but impressive nonetheless. That said, without Gabin my guess is that I'd like it less-- it's amazing how much depth there is to him, even when his face is utterly still. He's simultaneously incredibly handsome, horribly brutish and everything in between. Totally bizarre, but wonderful. That chick with the eyes? Jesus. She must have broken some hearts back in the day.

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der_Artur
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#2 Post by der_Artur » Wed Dec 29, 2004 3:40 pm

Martha wrote:That chick with the eyes? Jesus. She must have broken some hearts back in the day.

not only back then... to be honest, i don't understand, why so many people think this movie is disappointing. it is not very clever, thats true, but it has a nice atmosphere and is a lot of entertainment. all the characters are comic like and very pulpy, furthermore, as martha said, the story is really simple. it goes straight forward from point a to be, without any twists or similar. visually the movie is not very spectacular but functional with a certain beauty (the fog, the lighting, the girl). this simple pulp elements are not bad at all, they are overdone nowadays, maybe that's why no one likes them, but you can enjoy them, if you don't take them to serious. for me seeing such an old movie that looks like a grindhouse flick from the 70s was a delight.

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jesus the mexican boi
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#3 Post by jesus the mexican boi » Mon Jan 03, 2005 7:58 pm

Saw this recently and loved it. There aren't surprises, perhaps, but I found the pulp characters lovely, particularly Gabin and the castrated villain he slaps around.

Wonderful atmospherics. And I love Gabin's speech to the bearded Svengali. "You're a centipede!" Recommended if you like Gabin, Carne, old school pulps, Pepe le Moko, etc. etc. etc.

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denti alligator
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#4 Post by denti alligator » Tue Jan 18, 2005 11:47 pm

Well, I loved this film. So it's not as good as Children of Paradise (or better, as Jeunet thinks), but ...

A couple questions

1) To those who know the French language and French culture a little better than I: why does Jean always use the informal address (tu) with Nelly, while she continues to you the formal pronoun (vous) until after they've slept together. (The exception being, I think, the second time she asks him to kiss her at the fair.)

2) Am I wrong in seeing the Zabel character as a Jewish stereotype? His characterization gave the film an anti-semitic air that left me troubled. Is this why Renoir called it a "fascist" film? But then why the effort to avoid German censors and to hire a Jewish producer?

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david hare
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#5 Post by david hare » Wed Jan 19, 2005 12:56 am

I think Michelle Morgan (Nelly) uses the "vous" from a class perspective. Yes she is a babe and is equally spectacular in Gremillon's "Remorques" (1941) which is available in an excellent restoration and transfer from MK2 in France (but with no English subs.) Someone needs to open a thread on Gremillon, BTW - shamefully neglected director, with very little critical material available outside France. I think his Guele d'Amour (1937) is a total masterpiece of French cinema and possibly Gabin's very best picture (also stars the sublime Mireille Balin as his nemesis.)

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david hare
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#6 Post by david hare » Wed Jan 19, 2005 1:06 am

Let me correct that spelling - it's "Gueule d'Amour" Various English titles "Lady Killer" and the far better "Lover Boy" if anyone feels like looking it up.

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htdm
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#7 Post by htdm » Wed Jan 19, 2005 3:43 am

I really enjoyed Remorques and Pour un sou d'Amour but I've been wanting to see Gueule d'Amour for years now and never had any luck in finding it. Is it available on any HV format?

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david hare
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#8 Post by david hare » Wed Jan 19, 2005 8:23 am

I am absolutely unaware of any HV source. I was lucky enough to se it in 16mm last year and was completely knocked out. Some of Gremillon's other titles seem to have more currency in French writing - eg Le Ciel est a Vous (which is very interesting also) and certainly Lumiere d'Ete (which I have from TV) but Gueule just blows me away. Maybe there is an anti-Gabin/30s adventure yarn bias operating there.... anyway if it ever came out in France without Eng subs I would buy it without hesitation.

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zedz
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#9 Post by zedz » Wed Jan 19, 2005 4:04 pm

flixyflox wrote:Some of Gremillon's other titles seem to have more currency in French writing - eg Le Ciel est a Vous (which is very interesting also) and certainly Lumiere d'Ete (which I have from TV) but Gueule just blows me away.
Haven't seen Gueule d'Amour, but I'm a big admirer of Le Ciel est a vous: Gremillon takes what you'd expect to be a mindlessly upbeat story of human endeavour and delivers it with nuanced psychological realism. I suppose it has attracted a lot of attention as a proto-feminist film, but I find both central characters beautifully realised, with the film giving one of the most realistic depictions of the dynamics of a marriage from the period.

What was the topic of this thread again?

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denti alligator
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#10 Post by denti alligator » Wed Jan 19, 2005 4:23 pm

What was the topic of this thread again?
I'd still like to know if I'm alone in sensing some anti-semitism in the characterization of Zabel (in Port of Shadows, that is).

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Michael
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#11 Post by Michael » Wed Jan 19, 2005 4:28 pm

I'd still like to know if I'm alone in sensing some anti-semitism in the characterization of Zabel (in Port of Shadows, that is).
Not sure about that. It's been a while since I saw the film. Isn't Carne's other film Children Of Paradise supposed to have an anti-semetic character? Or maybe it's one of the actors? I remember reading something about it.

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charulata
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#12 Post by charulata » Wed Jan 19, 2005 7:16 pm

According to the BFI book on Les Enfants du Paradis, the original actor for whom the part of Jericho was written, Robert Le Vigan, made anti-semitic and pro-Nazi radio broadcasts during the war, and fled to join members of the Vichy government in Germany in 1944. Some scenes with him may have been shot, but Pierre Renoir is the Jericho you see in the film.

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Michael
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#13 Post by Michael » Wed Jan 19, 2005 7:23 pm

Yeah, charulata, that's it. Thanks for refreshing that.. it's been a long while since I read that.

Sorry, denti alligator. I thought this info might help you with your question.

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david hare
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#14 Post by david hare » Wed Jan 19, 2005 8:09 pm

Michel Simon's character in Quai is certainly both Jewish and a complex mix of overbearing and damaged to say the least. But I don't get an ani-semitic vibe from him. Instead I feel Simon (and Carne and Prevert) give the character a lot of depth and range. Let's face it Michel Simon is ALWAYS wonderful to watch. But others may disagree.
I wonder if, as a gay man Carne may have been more attuned to the sensitivities of what we now call "minorities" than many others. For example he casts a very young Francois Perier as a working-class gay kid (in an extremely open performance for the 30s) in the wonderful Hotel du Nord. This is not to say that other gay artists couldn't be anti-semitic of course.

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david hare
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#15 Post by david hare » Wed Jan 19, 2005 10:45 pm

Dmkb and zedz I just found this link, here is another one for US inhabitants.

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Dylan
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#16 Post by Dylan » Sat Jan 22, 2005 7:13 pm

Just got finished watching this. Jean Gabin, as Martha pointed out, seemingly effortlessly portrays a man both tough, brutish but also romantically sensitive. To me, he is the French Bogart, and I just love his acting (this is my first film with him since I saw Grand Illusion, but that was over two years ago...time for a revisit whenever I have the chance). Michelle Morgan is gorgeous, glowing the screen with her every appearence and emotion. The sets are awesome as well, particularly that lovely carnival. Good music, too.

The Criterion release is unfortunately low on extras, but that booklet certainly looks like a good read (and the stills, which I went through, are quite lovely)! Too bad Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who seems very close to this film, couldn't have filmed an introduction/interview, but I suppose he was busy working on his current masterpiece, Un Long Dimanche de Fiancailles. Maybe he can be featured on future Criterion releases?
Last edited by Dylan on Sat Jun 21, 2008 1:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

Michael Strangeways
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#17 Post by Michael Strangeways » Thu Feb 10, 2005 2:46 pm

I watched this and Renoir's French Cancan last night so I had a Jean Gabin double feature. I loved both movies and continue to marvel at the sexual frankness of French film; unmarried characters very obviously having sex with each other, something not done so obviously in American film until the 1960's. And while Gabin is somewhat Bogart-ish, he really is a fantastic combination of several actors. He has Bogart's tough cruelty, Gable's earthy sex appeal and most importanly, the bearing and quiet dignity of Spencer Tracy. In many ways, he reminds me a lot of a more contemporary actor, Gene Hackman, but sexier and a little more dangerous. As to Michele Morgan using the more formal vous pre-coitus, I think it's a question of her being a young girl being formal with an older man, and after, she's a woman who's obviously just changed her status with Jean by sleeping with him.....

Michael Strangeways
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#18 Post by Michael Strangeways » Thu Feb 10, 2005 2:54 pm

....and I forgot to mention a question I had. In the liner notes there is a lengthy excerpt from Carne's autobiography where he mentions a nude scene involving the suicide of a certain character. A producer on the film was opposed to this and arranged for the actor playing that role to leave the Le Havre set so Carne couldn't film the scene. Carne cajoled a crew member with a similiar build to do the scene, which was to be filmed from behind so the face wouldn't be visible. Yet, there is no such shot in the film! So, my question is, was this shot included in the original print and has subsequently been lost due to censorship, or did it even make it into the finished print? Are there other versions out there with this scene? Does anyone know?

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Dylan
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#19 Post by Dylan » Fri Feb 11, 2005 6:27 pm

That was the only part of the film I had a problem with. That character talks of changing his identity, then without warning, he is presumably plunged into the sea, leaving his clothes and art case on the shore. I simply accepted it as a plot device so we could get to Jean taking over his identity, but it would've been better had he been shown actually commiting suicide (though again, we're never told why exactly he is doing any of this so drastically). Instead, we're left assuming he's off naked swimming to another place (though perhaps it is a bit easier to believe he commited suicide). It's beside the point in the story, and it's probably intentionally left ambiguous, but the shot Carne describes in the notes would help.
Last edited by Dylan on Sat Jun 21, 2008 1:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

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blindside8zao
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#20 Post by blindside8zao » Sun Dec 09, 2007 2:08 am

does anyone know why this is listed as oop on criterion's site? I need to hurry and get it if it's really going out.

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Cold Bishop
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#21 Post by Cold Bishop » Sun Dec 09, 2007 2:31 am

blindside8zao wrote:does anyone know why this is listed as oop on criterion's site? I need to hurry and get it if it's really going out.
Get it...

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aox
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#22 Post by aox » Fri Jun 20, 2008 4:18 pm

I saw this for the first time and was astonished at how wonderful this was. The print is really in bad shape at some points, so I feel lucky that this film still even exists. Anyway, it is out of print (so I picked up one of the few remaining copies), but it seems that Criterion lost the rights and did not pull this film for a reissue. bummer

Here is an email from Criterion:
Hi,

Unfortunately, "Port of Shadows" is one that went out of print due to rights issues. We hope to rerelease it and if we recover the rights we certainly shall, so please keep checking back. Thanks for your email, and feel free to write in again if you have any other questions!

Sincerely

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dad1153
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Re: 245 Port of Shadows

#23 Post by dad1153 » Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:04 pm


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HerrSchreck
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Re: 245 Port of Shadows

#24 Post by HerrSchreck » Tue Feb 02, 2010 9:55 pm

Sad.. one of the best films ever made, and to me THE ultimate exemplar of the poetic realist species. Light years better than Les Enfants du paradis.

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thelberg
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Re: 245 Port of Shadows

#25 Post by thelberg » Fri Mar 09, 2012 3:35 pm

Studio Canal is putting out a Blu-ray, likely in June. I'll be curious to see if it's Region B locked or not.

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