La nuit fantastique (1942)

LA NUIT FANTASTIQUE (1942)
aka Fantastic Night
Article 1882 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-10-2006
Posting Date: 10-7-2006
Directed by Marcel L’Herbier
Featuring Fernand Gravey, Micheline Presle, Saturnin Fabre

A student of philosophy is haunted by dreams of a beautiful woman. One night he is awoken by the image in his dreams and follows her in the belief that he is still dreaming.

This charming romantic comedy is somewhat similar to the silent movie I covered some time ago, LAUGHING AT DANGER. Like that one, our character here shows a courage and a forwardness that he usually doesn’t display because he’s under a delusion; in LAUGHING, it was the belief that he was merely being the victim of a practical joke, and here it is the belief that he is dreaming. The fantastic content is elusive; the dream sequences do have a element of fantasy about them, there is a magician central to the plot, and though he is obviously a stage magician, some of his tricks are beyond the scope of stage illusions. There is also the theme of madness, which is one of the common horror themes, but here it is played for comedy, with the heroine feigning madness to avoid a forced marriage and a scene in an insane asylum that is also largely comic. It’s biggest fantastic element, though, is the presence of a blind psychic whose abilities are very much real in the context of the story. It’s a charming and entertaining movie, nonetheless, with good performances by all, and the whole thing feels like a Rene Clair movie.

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