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Firemen’s Ball () LoadingSUBSCRIBE

6.6 (24)
  • Country:
  • Genres: ,
  • Release: 1949-03-14
  • Director: André Berthomieu
  • Writers: Jean Nohain
  • Language: French
  • Stars: Claude Dauphin , Paulette Dubost , Dominique Nohain , Michèle Philippe
  • Runtime: 95 min
  • Awards: N/A
  • AKA: Firemen's Ball , Le bal des pompiers , Le bal des pompiers (France, French Republic)
  • Plot: There are so many things to write about this unfairly neglected gem that one does not know where to begin .First of all ,it is based on a play by Jean Nohain : although a father of four,he joined the army and he was the first soldier to get to Notre Dame;he got a bullet through his jaw and later he had to show "the right profile" ; what happens to Michel (played by the author's son and the principal's nephew) and to his pal Badin is all the more poignant since he lived through all of that. This play was first performed on stage by most of the cast of the movie.Don't let the title (which might sound cheesy ) fool you! There's no firemen's ball and the meaning may escape your mind ,even to the French-speaking audience ; this ball is a metaphor: at the firemen's ball ,it's always the same who are dancing= at war ,it 's always the same who pay the price and give their body to save their country .This is the chronicle of a family (who has already paid a heavy tribute to the war(s) ), and proof positive,one more time ,that Louis Malle's "Lacombe Lucien ", was not,by a long shot,the first movie which dealt with the wrong side of the Occupation days : in this 1949 little film ,along with the brave soldiers, the collaborators,the war profiteers ,the so called Jews protectors, the would be resistant fighters (who put on their uniform when the allies are coming!) are all present .As the tide is starting to turn , a hateful profiteer bourgeois (Robert Arnoux) begins to sell flags (even Chinese flags would sell!) while collaborator artist Olivier welcomes his cousin and his pal who were risking their lives just because they can protect him against the crowd who begins to complain against these scoundrels who would live in luxury and drink champagne when the Parisians were starving .Olivier epitomizes cynicism to the hilt:not only his last sentence about his cousin is cowardice flesh on the bone, but he decides to exploit a POW orchestra to tour Europa.Very rare in the post -war French cinema ("Jericho" by Henri Calef is another example, and it ,too,shows the bad side of the Occupation ,along with the bravery of the others) , there is no central character :the first part is dominated by Camille ,the ancestor , a retired schoolteacher who curses his nephew and whose long speech against the war profiteer is a great moment .The second one is Olivier's although much time is given over to the true heroes ;all the lines hit home,and the sadly missed Tavernier, one of the rare champions of the film in France,along with Jacques Lourcelles , smartly points out the riotously funny lines about Hitler .The third segment is Henri's : a POW , he has become bitter and seems to have understood the rules of the famous ball ; Badin, the young pal , eventually has too ,and his final poem is simply superbly relevant. He came in blaring (see the fanfare of the first sequence) and went out ,so to speak,the same way.Claude Dauphin has here a life time role ,or should I say , the roles of his life ,for he plays three parts ! The old Camille, the hateful Olivier and the desillusioned Henri ,and one does believe there are three different actors .You should never dismiss a director: André Berthomieu did produce mediocrities by the dozen ,but there are exceptions ("le mort en fuite" ,the lovely " gringalet" , en légitime défense") and this is to these films that any fair review must address itself ; "le bal des pompiers" is his triumph.
  • IMDB:tt0194685
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