5 October 2015 | dbdumonteil
One time ,a long time ago,on a mountain in Switzerland ,yo lo lo lo lo...
Veronique Deschamps ,who was the director's wife (they married the very year the movie was released),had a very short career and she was only offered supporting parts in such works as " Escale A Orly" ,"Suivez Cet Homme "or " Chiens Perdus Sans Colliers ".Part of the reason can be found in the fact that the androgynous girl niche was already occupied in the fifties by Andrée Debar who was notably cast as Le chevalier D'Eon ,a spy who used to dress up as a woman,in Jacqueline Audry's eponymous film.
Although she plays the lead in this movie,she is not credited so :Michel Simon and Gaby Morlay ,whose appearances do not exceed half of her time on screen , are considered the stars and their big names appear first in the cast.Also featured are veterans Marcelle Géniat and Pauline Carton.Michel Barbey ,who plays the young romantic male lead is treated the same way as Deschamps :although still living ,and having enjoyed a long career,he remained virtually unknown throughout.
The movie is pure melodrama ,a genre in which Gaby Morlay is a specialist .Pietro is a girl who passes herself off as a boy in the Swiss mountain where everybody is his/her friend ;one could fear for a moment that this tomboy full of Joie De Vivre would lead us into "Heidi" territory.However,Pietro's gender does not delude the viewer for long ,but there are good sequences:
-Piétro /Angelina swimming in the nude in the Stream ,surprised by her good friend Calisse ..
-the same,in the boarding-school ,sleeping in the dormitory with the boys;when they Wake up,the priest asks them to have a shower:too much for the girl who takes to her heels ,too bad for her mates! (let's note that the heavenly choir you hear for a short scene is none other than "Les Petits Chanteurs A La Croix De Bois" .See also for that matter Dreville's "La Cage Aux Rossignols" later remade as "Les Choristes").
-Angelina and Calisse in the same bed:"this bolster is like a mountain;it will be our natural boundary" she says to her disappointed friend.
-The smugglers trying to get to the border while the "Gabelous" (customs officers) are watching out for them;it is treated as a western.
The ending borrows from the story of the little Dutch boy . This legend has it that there was once a small boy who upon passing a dike on his way to school noticed a slight leak as the sea trickled in through a small hole.And he saved the situation.
All in all,this is very pleasant "Cinema De Qualité " ,even though it is marred by a politically correct ending:one should have wanted the lovers to stay with their comrades and take a rebel stand against the establishment (epitomized by so called grandpa Michel Simon )
Anyway,Dréville carried on with woman's lib in his follow-up ,devoted to aviator Hélène Boucher ,the French Amelia Earhardt ("Horizons Sans Fin")