And as far as Marcel Carné is concerned,going down.."Le Pays D'ou Je Viens" should be reserved for Gilbert Bécaud's fans ,and for them only. As Bécaud is a singer ,Carné is compelled to bestow on the audience a song every fifteen minutes.As I'm not a fan of Becaud's kind of music,the only palatable song is the title track to my ears .I'd rather have the Christmas songs ("IL est Né Le Divin Infant" and Adolphe Adam's "Minuit Chrétiens" (="O Holy Night") ,sung by Les Petits Chanteurs d'Anières ,in the vicarage or in the church during the midnight mass any day.
Carné's directing is listless;it's hard to believe that the same man made "Le Jour Se Lève" seventeen years before.He does not know how to show to advantage Becaud's singing.But there's worse:making an actor play two parts is a very difficult task.It takes a strong experimented thespian ,able to suggest two different personalities :Louis Jouvet,Michel Simon or Fernandel could pull it off.Becaud cannot,and it's hard to tell Eric and Julien apart.
The candy-floss color cinematography,as Bob Taylor points out ,retains a certain charm,the charm of the old Christmas cards (as the beginning and the end of the movie show),and Agostini's pictures are certainly pleasant enough.Christmas time in a small town in the fifties is nicely shown.Claude Brasseur ,Pierre's son (Pierre Brasseur was one of the leads of Carné's magnum opus "Les Enfants Du Paradis") appears in a small part.The script is sometimes ponderous :Françoise Arnoul's dress gag is repeated twice.
If you are looking for a Xmas tale,you'd better take Capra's "it's a wonderful life" (aka "La Vie Est Belle")