29 January 2009 | dbdumonteil
Girls behind bars
The only movie of the FRench thirties dealing with reform schools (for girls).The movie,very dated ,and in spite of its high rating , really a relic ,features two parts lasting about 45 minutes each.
The first part shows how a young daring headmistress (Annie Ducaux) imposes her "new " methods based on loyalty,courage and respect.The old one,a shrew,is almost a caricature like the other "tutors" :sinister-looking (only good-looking people are good?),treating her inmates as dogs (the scene when the girls undress before going to bed is the best).
The second part gets lost in second-rate melodrama ,one of the girls falling in love with the doctor (who is also the new headmistress's fiancé),and one of the girls (Ginette Leclerc,who at 26,was cast as an adolescent!)blackmails her to get cigarettes and alcohol.
The conclusion predates the Vichy ideology;reneging on her love,the noble woman will devote her whole life to help girls redeem themselves.
Word to the wise: Take Duvivier' s "Au Royaume Des Cieux"(1950) instead ;it's the same subject ,with a great director,which Leonide Moguy was not.