Saturday, June 23, 2007

REUNION IN FRANCE (MGM 1942) Warner Home Video

Jules Dassin’s Reunion in France (1942) is a rather clueless bit of tripe, peppering light comedy, heavy melodrama and a dash of Joan Crawford (looking absurdly scrumptious in a cavalcade of fashionable accoutrements by Adrian) with the likes of all-American, John Wayne – hopelessly miscast as R.A.F. flyboy, Pat Talbot.

Crawford is equally out of sorts as a French woman (minus a French accent), Michelle de la Beque – a fashion plate trophy gal to industrialist, Robert Cortot (Philip Dorn). After attending a rather lack luster political benefit, Michelle is all set to commit to Robert, only he fears that Hitler’s divisions will soon invade Paris. As a precaution, Robert sends Michelle away to the country. Days later, the bombing attacks begin.

Forced to schlep it on foot with the rest of the fleeing refugees, Michelle makes her way back to Paris only to discover that her boyfriend has become an ex-patriot and the driving industrial force in support of the Nazi military machine. So what’s a disillusioned gal to do?

Well, if you’re Michele you immediately set up shop with the next best thing – in her case, strapping American Pat Talbot (Wayne). Rescuing Pat from Nazi capture, the two quickly become a romantic pair; he masquerading as her chauffeur as they plot how best to get him back to Britain so that he can fly again for the Allied Forces.

Sandwiched somewhere between a war-time weepy and a legitimate Crawford picture, the screenplay by Jan Lustig meanders aimlessly from one implausible vignette to the next – the most comical: Crawford getting a job as a model at the fashion house that is far more art deco Hollywood than gay Paris and the same place she once frequented for her own haute couture while Robert was footing her bills.

MGM, a studio known for its surface sheen, musters up some ultra high gloss for these proceedings, but on the whole there is a decided note of grand superficiality to the darn mess and a tinny ring to the melodrama; less than flare or even modest respect for the refugee element the film is supposedly trying to champion.

Warner Home Video’s DVD exhibits a rather fine B&W image that occasionally seems slightly soft and blurry. The gray scale exhibits fine tonality throughout and fine details are usually nicely realized. Age related artifacts are present but kept to a bare minimum, as is the grittier aspect of film grain. The audio is mono but adequately balanced. Extras are limited to two vintage featurettes and the film’s theatrical trailer.

FILM RATING (out of 5 - 5 being the best)



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