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  • writers_reign4 April 2008
    Warning: Spoilers
    Carlo Rim is one of those writers who don't really register until one day you realise he was involved in several films you enjoyed watching; he started out with Marc Allegret on the Josephine Baker vehicle Zouzou and just before this one he wrote Justin de Marseille for Maurice Tourneur and went on to write three of the lesser-known Continental entries, Simplet, Ferme aux loups and Val d'Enfer - again for Tourneur. This time he's writing for two of the finest second-string actors in French cinema (let's face it, no one was going to eclipse Raimu or Gabin but there were lots of excellent actors right behind them, think Harry Bauer, Pierre Fresnay, Julien Carrette, Saturnin Fabre, Charpin, Pierre Brasseur for openers, to say nothing of these two, Jules Berry and Michel Simon. The plot involves our old friend the scam and what begins as a simple one-thought idea - Simon will off Berry who will then reappear when the publicity has turned them from ham actors into stars - spins further and further out of control until Simon winds up on Death Row with minutes to live even as Berry is facing a Polish Court (don't ask). This is yet another little-known gem and is more than worth seeking out.
  • Yes, the French were capable of making comedies in the thirties. Look at this one: Le mort en fuite, with its ridiculous title which means that the two main actors will be in great danger at one moment. I liked the scene at the court with Achille Baluchet (the ever-ugly Michel Simon) crying out: "Je suis innocent" and the scene at the military court of Poland (?) where Hector Trignol (a subtle Jules Berry) shouts: "Je n'y comprends rien". His mistress knows him but very well and can even prove who he really is... How he manages to escape I cannot tell you but it has something to do with love and customs examination. The end of the movie delivers us a typical French and thus charming surprise. Life is not always what it could be even when one becomes a celebrity. André Berthomieu gives us here a comedy which could have been written for theatre, it is all amusement without too much mind troubling. The best proof is that the writer Carlo Rim worked along for many years more in French cinema.
  • The screenplay was so good they made a remake eighteen years later.Two comedians down on their luck want to hit the big time.They are actually very bad :and it is a delight to see two first-class actors such as Jules Berry and Michel Simon ;they were so good that they could get away with anything: their overacting on stage or when they pretend they are in love with the star of the music hall is fine art.

    In order to draw the crowds,Berry suggest Simon "kill" him ;later he will "reappear" and both of them will become famous .This is a slapstick comedy ,but with a mad extremely funny script involving a "concierge" ,black humor,the guillotine ,two trials (and one takes place in Poland where people do not speak French ), shrinks (this man is not insane,so he must pay for what he has done).What people would do to gain fame...
  • The premise of this sublime comedy is that two third-rate actors, desperate for publicity, devise a harebrained scheme in which one of them pretends to kill the other. The "victim" will then return from the dead at the eleventh hour, saving his friend from the guillotine and creating a national sensation that will turn them both into top-billed stars. Of course, it doesn't all go according to plan...

    Michel Simon and Jules Berry make such a great double act it's a pity that the story requires them to split up for most of the movie. But the pace never flags, with Michel Simon's manic attempts to get himself arrested and then to clear himself of the murder charge; and Jules Berry trying to extricate himself from a wildly implausible but potentially fatal case of mistaken identity. The clever conceit of Carlo Rim's screenplay is that these hapless actors cannot even play themselves with conviction when their lives depend on it.

    There are some lovely details in the minor characters, too: the music hall starlet whose first reaction on hearing that someone may have been murdered over her is to sort out photos of herself for distribution to the press; the concierge, niggled at the way Michel Simon barks at her cat; and Simon's ineffectual windbag lawyer (all too plausible, I fear).

    Jules Berry was a notorious improviser of dialogue, and Michel Simon had difficulty keeping up at times. He even asked him to stick to the script at one point, though director André Berthomieu decided he liked it better when Berry was given free rein. A wise decision, as the spontaneous energy of their scenes together is one of the great delights of this movie.
  • It requires a first class actor to convincingly portray a talentless one. Here we have two of the best playing two of the worst. The 'worst' are Hector and Achille who concoct a fantastic plan to achieve overnight celebrity that involves Hector disappearing and Achille being arrested for his murder, only for Hector to reappear and expose a miscarriage of justice. However nobody seems to notice Hector's absence and Achille has a hell of a job getting himself arrested. To cut a long story short Hector manages to escape a firing squad in Poland(!) and saves Achille from the embrace of Madame la Guillotine in the nick of time. As for the 'best' we have Jules Berry as Hector and Michel Simon as Achille. Two magical and mesmerising actors who began in silent films and were still performing until the last years of their lives. Simon's appearances in the 1950's were sporadic due to a debilitating illness. French cinema would have been immeasurably poorer but for their presence and Simon was undoubtedly touched by genius. They are ably supported by Marie Glory as a vacuous, publicity-hungry 'artiste dramatique' and there is a marvellous turn by Marcel Vibert as a lawyer who plays to the gallery in the hilarious courtroom scene. Directed with esprit by Andre Berthomieu, with great dialogue by Carlo Rim and a masterclass in comic timing by Simon and Berry. Made nigh on 85 years ago this piece belongs to that rarified breed, 'a truly timeless comedy'.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Two mediocre music-hall actors are long-time friends and colleagues. Realizing that they are not exactly wowing the public with their thespian skills, they try to achieve fame in another way. Inspired by a newspaper account of a real-life "crime of passion" they decide to stage their own criminal drama. If a bloody murder over the affections of a sexy female artist doesn't grab the world's attention, nothing will...

    There are many people in this world who would rather eat one of their shoes than watch a black-and-white French comedy from the 1930's. They don't know what they're missing.

    "Dead man on the run" is a fine, witty comedy which pokes fun at subjects such as the legal system, penal law, psychiatry, the concept of "a crime of passion" and so on. The enduring fascination of the public with real-life crime also gets a panning. However its most lethal satirical barbs are aimed at the world of the theatre and variété. In the movie, the theatrical environment crawls with mediocre actors, indifferent colleagues, venal managers and ambitious harlots willing to sell their own grandmothers to the glue factory. About the only thing of value here is publicity - any kind of publicity, as long as it can be converted easily into money.

    The screenplay is both inventive and well-constructed. The acting is a delight, with two fine protagonists capable of expressing a whole gamut of acting styles and competence levels.

    Mind you, it's not all wit and sparkle. The movie contains a segment in which one of the protagonists flees to Belgium. You'll notice this is yet another occasion for the French to poke fun at French-speaking Belgians, because, you know, Belgians ! Their accent and vocabulary are so weird ! How do they dare to speak, well, dunno, Belgian French ? This kind of thing has been going on for centuries and by now the joke has gotten very, very stale...