A full-fledged Pagnol masterpiece - Marius or La Femme du boulanger - is as good as movies get. So a lesser Pagnol masterpiece is still worth watching. As the others have remarked, there is a lot of melodrama to this movie. But the best scenes rise above that. Orson Welles supposedly called Raimu the greatest actor in movies, and I'm not about to question that. The scene where he goes to the Mazel family to ask Jacques' parents to convince their son to marry his daughter and the subsequent scene where he sends his pregnant but unwed daughter away are as deeply moving as movies will ever get. Raimu gets more out of underacting than a hundred actors could get out of overacting. Charpin gets to play nasty as well as repentant, and he is good at both. It's a long movie - perhaps Pagnol needed a good editor; perhaps - but it never drags once it focuses on the real story: not Patricia's love for Jacques - that is just run-of-the-mill melodrama, the sort of thing we made in this country with Stanwyck and Davis and Crawford - but the emotions of the three parents, all of whom lose their children at one point in the story.
This is not Marius or La Femme du boulanger, but it's still very much worth watching.
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