17 February 2006 | dbdumonteil
Like son,like father!
Although the son (Jack-aka Jacques- Tourneur) is more known around the world thanks to such cult movies as "cat people", Maurice (the father) was one of the good directors of the French thirties (just a notch or two under Renoir,Carné ,Duvivier,Gance,Pagnol or Gremillon)."Justin de Marseille has certainly worn much better than more recent works such as "Borsalino" and its sequel "Borsalino and co" .
"Justin" is a good cross between Pagnol's bonhomie and Duvivier's film noir.Tourneur does not reach their level,though,and the reason can be found in his scripts:the story lacks focus ,intensity ,and a brilliant dialog writer is sometimes desperately needed ,even if the last sequence has a go at poetry involving even the Polar star.
But as a director,Tourneur cannot be too highly praised: the "funeral" sequence is a classic! He knows how to render the atmosphere of every place he's filming: the brothel -where a young lad,who's too shy,"will come back on Sunday,after the mass!"-,the opium den,the harbor where women sell fish by auction,the parade which opens the movie and which shows young boys singing an old tune (probably entitled "la Canebière" ).The actions scenes are brilliant too: the attack on the hearse full of opium is treated as a silent film .
However ,something's lacking! Something that made "Pépé le Moko" a masterpiece whereas "Justin" is only a good film.