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Thursday, March 19, 2009

MONSIEUR VINCENT (1947)


Though he helmed forty-plus features, this well-regarded bio-pic about a saintly French priest during the age of Louis XIV is the only credit Maurice Cloche is known for Stateside . . . and barely that nowadays. It’s a solid piece of work, handsomely shot in stark B&W by lenser Claude Renoir, that honors its subject by refusing to play down not only how difficult it is to live the life of a saint, but also how difficult it is to put up with having one around. Pierre Fresnay doesn’t overplay with priestly gravitas, but let’s us see the his spiritual development thru a refusal of comfortable positions and a straightforward manner of confronting the problems of the poor and of ignorance. And even then, as he expands his ministry beyond any ability to sustain his task, he knows that sometimes goodness alone isn’t enough. He’s more Don Quixote than Mother Teresa.


SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: As the years go by and the aging make-up goes on, Fresnay seems to morph into Trevor Howard. Or is it the other way ‘round?

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