Directed by Jean-Pierre Melville • Documentary • 1946 • 19 minutes
In Jean-Pierre Melville’s 1946 film debut, we follow aging circus clown Beby, from one night’s performance to the next. After the show, Beby eats the same spaghetti dinner his wife has been preparing for decades, lingers over fond memories, including a signed photo from Groucho Marx, and curls up with his tiny dog (while his wife sleeps in the next room). The next day, Beby and his longtime partner, Maïss, linger at a cafe, watching passers-by who provide plenty of fodder for that evening’s performance. Melville captures both the drudgery and delight of circus performance — a job that’s the same as any other, but at the same time unlike any other.