11 December 2009 | dbdumonteil
Legends die hard.Many naive people are still thinking that the Nouvelle Vague took the cinema out of the studios and saved a so called moribund "breathless" cinema.In the fifties,many people did cleverer things earlier and shot "on location" well before the wave.
"Monsieur Ripois" was filmed ,for many scenes ,in the streets of London,as Julien Duvivier and Jacques Becker filmed respectively "Sous Le Ciel De Paris" and "Les Rendez-Vous De Juillet" in the streets of Paris.Gerard Philippe walks in the London crowd as Belmondo will do in "breathless",six years later.
"Monsieur Ripois " owes almost everything to Gerard Philipe though;the screenplay is not that exciting and sometimes the action drags on.But Philipe was so extraordinary an actor -his boyish nay childlike look was unique among French actors ,he was never replaced - he could give substance to the most common of the characters (here a jaded Don Juan) He was one of the four actors Truffaut did not want to work with (for the record ,the three others were Michèle Morgan,Michel Simon and Jean Gabin) and that's a good reason to like him.He can be so many men from the charming young man to the tramp on the street,starving and crying over his broken radio to the chic pseudo-lit teacher Mr Cadet-Chenonceaux ,but he remains the man with the child in his eyes.
"Monsieur Ripois" ,in its own particular way,is a forerunner of " (the talented)Mr Ripley" René Clement would transfer to the screen in 1959 as "Plein Soleil" aka " Purple noon" .Both Philipe and Alain Delon seem to be "outside their character",the fact that the 1954 work is a comedy -which tragically ends- and the 1959 effort a thriller does not matter much:Ripois and Ripley have to fight against a hostile work,both try to gain the world (one cannot speak of their soul) thanks to women (Ripois) or crime (Ripley).Both take the others' names (Ripley) or invent their own identity (Ripois).