Thursday 20 September 2018 photo 1/6
Paris Calling Download
Marianne Jannetier, a well-to-do Parisian, engaged to Andre Benoit, a high-ranking government official, flees the city when the goose-stepping Nazi storm-troopers arrive. When her mother dies on the road to Bordeaux as a result of Nazi bombing, she returns to Paris and joins the underground movement. Nicholas Jordan, an American member of the RAF, stranded in Paris after the evacuation is also working with the Paris underground. Marianne kills her former fiancée, a pro-Nazi informant, for the traitorous state papers he is carrying, and she and Jordan try to flee over a French seaport...
Clearly Elizabeth Bergner wasn't thinking of posterity when she did her one and only Hollywood film. As a person of Jewish background who had the good sense to flee the Nazis in the early Thirties I'm sure she felt that doing this film about the early French resistance movement was patriotic in some way. Patriotic maybe, but bad and not a product that wears well, no doubt.
In Paris Calling Bergner is an entertainer in love with Basil Rathbone an official of the French government. What she doesn't know, but finds out is that Rathbone has been a collaborator for years plotting to bring the Nazi ways to France. He's not even a collaborator after the fact of the invasion. In other words, a traitor and a rat. It doesn't help that Bergner's mother is killed on the way to Bordeaux where the French government and Rathbone have fled.
Though it takes some time for them to accept her Bergner becomes quite the resistance worker. She's aided and abetted by downed RAF flier Randolph Scott, an American in their Eagle Squadron.
Watching the film I was convinced that I was seeing a routine World War II era flag waver. But at the end when a mass escape of resistance fighters is affected after the Nazis have discovered them I just said to myself this was way too much. I had always considered Errol Flynn's escape in Desperate Journey was the ultimate in Hollywood lunacy, but this one may have topped it. I won't reveal a word, you'll have to see it evaluate for yourself.
For her fans in Europe who might have got to see this after the war this had to be a painful experience. Equally so for fans in the English speaking world who saw her in Escape Me Never, Catherine The Great, or As You Like It.
I'm sure Bergner wanted to forget it and it may be why she never did another Hollywood film.
This is the movie that proves that Elizabeth Bergner can deliver just as mediocre a performance under Edwin L. Marin's direction as she can when her husband, Paul Czinner, is holding the directorial reins. Admittedly, in this instance the screenwriters have come up with what must be one of the silliest scripts of all time. Sample dialogue: "It's a long chance, and dangerous!" "Oh, Marion, please! I can't bear it when you cry!" This sort of stuff even manages to daunt Basil Rathbone. And Lee J. Cobb is ridiculously miscast as a Gestapo leader. At first, I thought Lee J. was actually clowning around for laughs, but this turned out to be not the case at all. At least Charles Arnt is wide awake and wisely plays his ridiculous lines for comedy. There's a lot of misused talent behind the camera too, including superb photography by Milton Krasner, and even a sequence credited to Jean Negulesco.
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