21 May 2020 | ulicknormanowen
Ramuntcho is "Basque" for Raymond.
Based on Pierre Loti's famous novel , it takes place in the "pays Basque" the writer would call his country of adoption ; but Basque people's objections remain : their region is depicted as a heavenly land where the young men spend their time playing Basque pelota (like in AJ Cronin 's "the Spanish gardener),singing ,dancing....and smuggling.
This remake of a silent movie (de Baroncelli,1918) by obscure director rené Barbieri,very well received at the time of issue, is with hindsight regarded less favourably .
Some objections remain: pelota, folk dances in costumes would nicely do on postcards .And directing is academic,lacking in invention.
Ramuntcho's mother was unwed ,he's an alien (non Basque that is) 's son ,and for holier-than -thou Dolorès whose daughter Gracieuse is in love with this illigitimate child , it's a curse .
In the Basque country ,it's cops and robbers game : the smugglers versus the gendarmes : and their sergeant covets Gracieuse too .Dolores has found the perfect son-in-law.
In the book ,Ramuntcho is arrested and given the choice between jail or a five-year enlistment in Indochina ;in the film he simply does his military service and why he chooses Indochina does not make much sense .
Ruthless Dolores is adamant too : either her daughter marries the sergeant or she enters a convent ;she opts for the second solution (she's forced in the book , she takes refuge in it in the film)
The book was watered down indeed : its denouement has nothing to do with that of the movie I won't reveal : desperate , when he returns from indochina, Ramuntcho tries to abduct his beloved one, who has become a nun ,with the help of her brother ;and he fails ; sad story indeed.
Today , you can watch the movie for its excellent cast: Madeleine Ozeray is perfect as "Gracieuse" ,her eyes longing for a happiness which eludes her ;Louis Jouvet ,who was in love with her off screen ,and with whom she would team up again in Duvivier 's masterpiece "la fin du jour", is only supporting as a smuggler pal ,but he makes all his scenes count.Line Noro as the unwed mom ,and Françoise Rosay as her enemy play their game well ,and it's too bad they have not more scenes together.
Remade twice since ,the second time by Pierre Schoendoerffer in 1958: Brigitte Bardot's sister played Gracieuse.