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Port of Shadows

The first of the collaborations between director Marcel Carné and writer Jacques Prévert, who would go on to make LE JOUR SE LÈVE (1939) and CHILDREN OF PARADISE (1945), PORT OF SHADOWS is a melancholy poem of life and death in the lower depths of Le Havre. Jean Gabin projects stubborn dignity and deep weariness as Jean, a deserter from the French colonial army who arrives one foggy night at an otherworldly waterfront dive. There he encounters a variety of underworld characters including a beautiful, troubled young woman (Michèle Morgan), who, like Jean, dreams of some kind of escape—from the past, from the shadowy streets, and from her sinister guardian, unsettlingly played by Michel Simon. Eugen Shufftan’s atmospheric cinematography matches the lyrical pessimism of Prévert’s dialogue; figures come and go in the nocturnal mist, moments of violence or unexpected generosity interrupting their fundamental solitude. “A marvelously moody thriller…. Seldom has the seedy side of life seemed so utterly seductive.”—BFI.

Genres: Surrealism, Noir, Thriller

Other Films by Marcel Carné

Le jour se lève

Like his classic The Children of Paradise, Carné’s haunting noir is one of the classics of French poetic realism and considered by many to be his greatest film. François (Jean Gabin), a factory worker, reflects on the circumstances of love, rivalry, and betrayal that have led to his standoff in a police dragnet. Holed up

Children of Paradise

“Generally considered among French, if not world, cinema’s greatest accomplishments, Carné’s film features not only grand settings but an extraordinary assemblage of actors—Étienne Decroux, who taught mime art to Marcel Marceau and Jean-Louis Barrault; Pierre Brasseur; Pierre Renoir; Maria Casares; Arletty; and more. The script, based on a mélange of French literary sources, centers on