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Directed by Marcel Carné

France 1938 91 mins. In French

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.



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