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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

FANFAN LA TULIPE (1952)



In his signature role, the eternally young Gérard Philipe plays a lusty rapscallion in the age of Louis XV who swashes & buckles as a peasant soldier, wooing Madame de Pompadour & the King’s daughter before realizing that camp follower Gina Lollobrigida is the only girl he could ever love. On the way, he survives a hanging, outfoxes the machinations of the King & his minions, single-handedly wins a war for France & turns an entire generation of film-goers into Fanfan fans. You can pin-pont the exact moment this happened when a drunk Fanfan discovers that tru-love must not only be given, but returned. The film is cleverly structured as a sort of sub-Candide picaresque, with helmer Christian-Jaque substituting cute irony for Voltaire’s savage irony. He tends to make everything a bit too adorable, but under the shining lens of the great Christian Matras (those Philipe teeth!) everything pretty much IS adorable.

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