Secrets of a Ballerina (1943)

  |  Drama


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Cast & Crew

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Pierre Blanchar


Bernard Zimmer (adaptation), Bernard Zimmer (dialogue), Honoré de Balzac (novel)

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28 September 2016 | dbdumonteil
| All the hours hurt,the last one kills
Loosely based of Honoré De Balzac's two short stories ,this is the second of the two movies actor Pierre Blanchar directed.As you do not change a winning team,this movie enjoys again Christian Matras 's remarkable cinematography and Arthur Honneger's superb score. "Un Seul Amour" is IMHO ,superior to the former effort.

1)A screenplay influenced by "Citizen Kane" :the heroine's niece inherits her castle and ,with her companion,tries to understand who her relative really was;sometimes flouting chronology (the scene of the deathbed),with a stunning editing which masterfully introduces the flashbacks;and the famous last word " Rosebud" is replaced by the sentence Clara whispers just before she dies :"I've got something else to tell".

2)The romantic escapist movie of the occupation days is given a unusually inventive treatment: the hero gives up his career and his love sacrifices her passion for dancing:the first scene is a ballet ,and Matras's camera captures her dance in the early morning grass ,before she meets her husband.But they know their bliss will be short-lived :"there are happy people,says Clara ,who do not want other people to be so."

3)Other influences show:

that of Henry Hathaway's "Peter Ibbetson ";a dreamlike sequence was already present in Blanchar's first effort;here a happy end , in the hereafter ,where the two ghosts meet in the garden where they were happy ,proves that love triumphs in the end ,because ,in spite of their faults,Clara and her beloved husband remained true to themselves .

....and even Poe's Gothic horror :there's a mysterious door,no one is allowed to open because it hides things better left unsaid.Gérard had a door bricked up ,and the crucifix the dying Clara keeps in her bed causes,in a strange manner,her death.

Like in the great escapist movies of the occupation days ,Carné's "Les Visiteurs Du Soir"(1942) and Delannoy/Cocteau's " L'Eternel Retour " (1943) ,in "Un Seul Amour" ,there's no way out for the doomed lovers;they cannot survive in the world of the living ,which in those days was truer than ever,they are people legends are made of.The impressive last picture follows Clara's fingers as she reaches for the sundial.

Excellent performances by the director and his leading lady ,Micheline Presles;good support by Gabrielle Fontan and Julien Bertheau.

An unsung gem of the occupation days.

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