I haven't even gotten started!
First of all, Maven, what is that captivating avatar? Jane Greer maybe?
I don't know that I have a favorite scene, it kind of washed over me in flashes. Probably the one that took the movie into greatness for me was the one that made me gasp aloud - when Inspector Antoine says to Dora, "You and me, we're two of a kind. When it comes to women we'll never have a chance."
What I noticed, well, it started with the first scene with Simone, who is photographing Jenny Lamour. The scene starts in a blinding light flashed directly at the camera... then Simone quickly adjust the bulb away from the audience as the camera pulls back to reveal the photo shoot. "WHOA." I said, "Incroyable! How daring."
I loved all the side angles (I mean the camera work but also in the story). Following Maurice through the theatre, we swing from the audience to the wings to the backstage, seamlessly and with such panache, we feel as though we work there and have been there everyday for months. Clouzet makes us so familiar with the milieu that we don't even realize that the plot is being set up, suspense is being built, and his fluid camera never distracts from the emotional and rather sweet love story told. This movie is full of red herrings actually, but they are never blatant. We are foiled in our expectations every time, thanks to some deft writing and film techniques.
I was charmed at Jenny and Maurice's love, opposites really do attract, and I was relieved that Jenny was such a great heartfelt heroine rather than a femme fatale, even though she was set up as the latter. Her big emotional eyes, brimming with tears or anger, were always so expressive and childlike. I loved being fooled into thinking Dora was in love with Maurice. I loved the very tender disappointment on Antoine's face when his boy flunked geometry. I loved that Maurice was so ugly, both in features and in personality, I could even see WHY he was the way he was - he's the lowest on the rung at the theatre, madly in love with it's star, and nothing will dissuade him of his jealousy, even his own wife's protests. It propels his every action. I loved that Antoine's sad love affair was never alluded to, we are left to draw our own conclusions. I loved how grotesque some of the film is, like walking into a bestiary, except that it remains realistic; in fact, this movie defies categorization - it encompasses a lot of different genres. I wasn't even sure where to post my review! It's got touches of neorealism, surrealism, expressionism, the avant garde. There's even a little of Rene Clair. It's a police procedural, a noir film, a suspense film, and a musical, not to mention a love story. It's about good people, really good people dealing with a massively corrupt society...tainted by it. I liked how happy the theatre people were, doing their jobs, making things run night after night, even though it was cheap and sleazy and Jenny was the best thing about it.
I liked how foolish everyone was. So human.
Real soldiers, fates unknown, from The Battle of the Somme, filmed 1916