20 August 2003 | dbdumonteil
Long before Ozon's "8 femmes"(2002) and even George Cukor's "Women"(1939) ,this is the first movie with an all-female cast -with one little exception-.And despite an awful sound ,it is a very enjoyable movie.By the way,the running time in France in about 92 min,so the precedent user did not miss much.It should be restored because of its poor quality.
It takes place in a no-man-enters boarding-house,but a big one :150 lodgers under a matronly watchful head's eye.This is a good-hearted woman beneath that severe exterior.The center of this rather comfortable place is a huge swimming-pool where the characters meet every day.
Danielle Darrieux is the only name which is still famous today:she is in "8 femmes " which I mention above.She is now a delightful old lady ,she was then a charming girl with a pouty mouth and a bright smile.In the movie ,she succeeds -which is a considerable feat- in bringing her squeeze into the house:she dresses him up as a woman and claims he's her first cousin.(She's nice ,says the head,while looking at this strange lodger,but how bad she walks!).It was probably influenced by "fanfare d'amour" (Richard Pottier,1935) which Billy Wilder remade as "some like it hot" in 1959.They will make (oh dear!) a baby in this honorable place,but she will be forgiven because... (well I won't give a clue)
What might seem stranger is the presence of a lesbian;at the time homosexuality was completely banned unless it was ridiculed like in "circonstances atténuantes" (1939) where a gay ended up married with children at the end.Here,the actress plays her character with conviction and subtlety:her problem lies in the fact she's in love with the dumbest girl in the house .In order to seduce her,she gives her spelling lessons.But her love cannot understand anything.Of course this subplot will all end in disaster,but the head's attitude -she probably understood the whole thing- is not what you would call "politically correct".This episode was certainly influenced by Léontine Sagan's "Mädchen in Uniform" (1931).
Men,go your way! says the head as she unveils the founder's bust.Later,it will snow on it and it 's a transparent metaphor:with one exception,every girl actually dreams of her Prince Charming.