Marianne de ma jeunesse (1955)

aka Marianne of my Youth

Article 3571 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-5-2011
Posting Date: 5-25-2011
Directed by Julien Duvivier
Featuring Marianne Hold, Pierre Vaneck, Gil Vidal
Country: France / West Germany
What it is: Ghost fantasy

A young man who grew up in Argentina comes to stay at a French boy’s school. He becomes enamored with a beauty who is staying in a mansion across the lake… a mansion that is supposed to empty and haunted.

This movie doesn’t have a great reputation, and if you consider the basic plot, it’s very familiar indeed. However, the movie is more than just the basic plot; there are so many romantic, evocative and fairy-tale touches around the edges of the story that it transcends its main story. The boy from Argentina is a romantic figure, a man with music in his soul who has a magnetic charisma with people and with animals. Other touches include an ugly unibrowed valet (played by Ady Berber, who popped up in a few krimi, most notably in DEAD EYES OF LONDON), a gang of brigands, and one of the strangest evil women in the history of cinema; her revenge on being spurned by the Argentine is shocking enough that I found myself not as shocked by the beating she gets from him in return. These various elements are handled with a sense of magic and lyrical fantasy that you find yourself emotionally drawn into the tale. Despite the familiarity of the main tale, the movie it most seemed to evoke was PORTRAIT OF JENNIE, and I think this would make a great companion piece for a double feature.

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