5 December 2016 | dbdumonteil
Hit the road Jacques!
It was 1936 ,the Front Populaire and the first paid vacation ;it seems that "Prends La Route" succeeded in capturing the era zeitgeist ,with its country roads ,its welcoming inns,its scout girls (be prepared)and its flippant atmosphere.
The hero who hits the road is not a working man ,mind you ,and he had not to wait for 1936 to enjoy a playboy's life ;he is a viscount ,and his father threatens to disinherit him if he does not marry the (wealthy) peasant girl who lives near his old castle "where the sun never gets in".
As soon a young maid and her aunt appear on the broad where a breakdown has stopped them,and a handsome young guy comes to their rescue,the screenplay is entirely predictable.
The movie retains some of its pristine charms though ;Jean Boyer,who was par excellence the Saturday-night-at -the-movies director of the time,does a good job,filming the car speeding on the roads (no highways !) ,the chases;and the way the two lovers discover their respective identities is a stroke of inspiration;they say one sequence was filmed in color (in 1936!) but in the restored movie,it's nowhere to be seen.
The screenplay suggest you two very funny way of earning your crust:
-the insurance agent causes a car crash ,then plays "hit and run" ;"I join my victim later in an inn , I pity him and my insurance policy is in the bag!"(at the time an insurance was not compulsory)
-The level-crossing keeper's wife takes advantage of the drivers' long wait to sell drinks and sandwiches ."I wish it lasted longer"
Jacques Pills (the young noble) was a crooner ,today remembered as one of Edith Piaf's husbands (for four years),who teamed up with Georges Tabet ("Potopoto") ,the insurances crook ,who was some kind of foil to him (sort of Martin-Lewis,French style);therefore the movie is primarily a musical,including many tunes such as the title track,"A Notre Age" "Y'A Toujours Un Passage A Niveau " and many others .
A time capsule of sorts.