France Before the New Wave
From just before World War II until the dawn of the "New Wave" here is a small group of enjoyable, curious, sometimes unexpected black & white films with many of the major stars of the period. (Also we've included the much earlier first film by Marc Allégret, one of the most prolific French directors of the time.)
The Botanical Avatar of Mademoiselle Flora
Directed by Jeanne Barbillon • Drama • With Bernadette Lafont, Louis Mesuret • 1965 • 15 minutes
In a small French town, Flora (Bernadette Lafont) has a six-week fling with a soldier. But this is no passionate affair. Her lover, the cartoonish Charles (Louis Mesuret), ignores her advances, insis...
Ô saisons ô châteaux
Directed by Agnès Varda • Documentary • With Danièle Delorme • 1956 • 21 minutes
This early Agnès Varda short looks at the castles of the Loire Valley — and the unusual histories and personalities behind them. Punctuated by first-person accounts, excerpts from well-known poems, and stylish re-cr...
Directed by Maurice Lehmann • Drama • With Fernandel, Michel Simon, Arletty, Hélène Robert • 1939 • 106 minutes
Fernandel was a 20th-century French phenomenon – once he emerged from supporting roles in the early ‘30s, with his inimitable equine mug, enormous incisors and friendly eyes, he comman...
Directed by Jacqueline Audry • Drama • With Edwige Feuillere, Simone Simon • 1950 • 96 minutes
OLIVIA is a remarkable work by one of France’s first ground-breaking female filmmakers, which easily merits rediscovery today after being neglected for almost 70 years.
Plunging the viewer—and the ma...
Jacqueline Audry Interview
Jacqueline Audry on how she got her start directing films.
Directed by Marc Allégret • Drama • With Jean Marais, Dany Robin, Jeanne Moreau • 1953 • 97 minutes
JULIETTA is a romantic comedy with the whimsical energy of a hummingbird. Dany Robin stars as the eponymous demoiselle, a flighty, impulsive pixie in white gloves who is engaged to an older prince...
The Scheming Women (Les Intrigantes)
Directed by Henri Decoin • Drama • With Raymond Rouleau, Jeanne Moreau, Raymond Pellegrin, Etchika Choureau • 1954 • 98 minutes
An accidental death or a murder? Henri Decoin’s swervy postwar mystery dangles that question over the audience like a loose spotlight, plunging into the teeming worklif...
Lady Chatterley's Lover
Directed by Marc Allégret • Drama • With Danielle Darrieux, Leo Genn, Erno Crisa, Jean Murat • 1955 • 100 minutes
This is the first film of D.H. Lawrence’s controversial novel, which premiered in 1955, five years before the uncensored novel even appeared in print in the UK. Danielle Darrieux (in...
School for Love
Directed by Marc Allégret • Drama • With Jean Marais, Brigitte Bardot, Isabelle Pia, Yves Robert • 1955 • 96 minutes
Brigitte Bardot was only 20 when she starred in this adaptation of a 1920 Vicki Baum novel. She’s Sophie, one of a platoon of young music conservatory students in postwar Vienna, ...
A Game for Six Lovers (L’eau à la bouche)
Directed by Jacques Doniol-Valcroze • Drama • With Bernadette Lafont, Françoise Brion • 1960 • 84 minutes
One of the founders of the epochal film magazine Cahiers du cinema, and therefore a prime mover of the French New Wave, Doniol-Valcroze joined all the upstart critics making films in the lat...
La Dénonciation (The Immoral Moment)
Directed by Jacques Doniol-Valcroze • Drama • With Maurice Ronet, Françoise Brion, Nicole Berger • 1961 • 72 minutes
An innocent man, a dark bar, a body already on the floor, a brawl – what happened? And who’s innocent, anyway? Jacques Doniol-Valcroze’s game-playing mystery begins with a simple ...
Travels in the Congo (Voyage au Congo)
Directed by Marc Allégret • Documentary • 1927 • 117 minutes
In 1925, Marc Allégret accompanied André Gide on a journey to French Equatorial Africa, the Congo, as his secretary, and novice filmmaker. Filming throughout their 11-month travels, and only three years after Nanook of the North, Allég...
With André Gide
Directed by Marc Allégret • Documentary • 1951 • 92 minutes
Nobel-prize-winning author, social justice crusader, anti-colonialist, adventure traveler, musician, and one-time Communist: André Gide was a larger-than-life character who dominated French letters from the turn of the 20th century to h...