5 December 2019 | dbdumonteil
The cossack -graduate .
The screenplay is very close to that of the famous remake by Jack Lee Thompson (1962)starring Yul Brynner ,Tony Curtis and Christine Kaufmann whose parts are played here by Harry Baur ,Jean-Pierre Aumont and Danielle Darrieux .
The part was tailor made for Brynner in the color version ,but with make up,Harry Baur is a very credible cossack : probably the best actor of the French thirties, to many even more powerful than Jean Gabin ,he effortlessly dominates the cast :on the other hand, it takes a lot of imagination to believe that romantic male lead Aumont is his son !The same goes for Danielle Darrieux as a Polish girl;and fortunately Pauline Carton (the concierge of many films and par excellence the cheeky popular woman ) as her lady in waiting has only one scene!
Unlike the American film, the French effort passes over in silence the years in the boarding-school where cossacks send some of their offsprings to study:it begins with the "graduation " ,so to speak,and whereas André succeeds "magna cum laude" ,his brothers has remained a dunce and is proud of it ;and anyway ,one wonders why Tarass wants his sons to study ,for reading ,writing and arithmetic are a sissy's thing if we are to believe him ;the only thing a cossack kas to do is to make war ;to make the matter worse , graduate André has fallen in love with a gorgeous polish girl ,Marina,and his dad besieges her town.
The French in the thirties were very fond of Russian tales ,with laughable casts (see also "Volga En Flammes " ) ;this one is entertaining ,mainly in its first part ,more comic strip than Russian litterature ;best scene: the cossacks ,seen from a distance ,coming to lay siege to André's sweetheart's town.