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  • dbdumonteil2 December 2007
    Jean Gourguet has sunk into oblivion,and the rare critics we can read are downright negative: poor melodramas,coarse comedies dominated by sex...

    "Son Dernier Role" must be the exception which proves the rule,for it is melodrama for sure,but good melodrama .An actress Hermine Wood(Gaby Morlay) who triumphs on stage every night has a physical exam and discovers she is terminally ill.

    What could have been an awful tear-jerker is actually a lovely film:based on a play,it features some of the greatest actors of the era:Dalio,Jean Tissier,Gabrielle Fontan,Helene Manson..And the story is well told:at the beginning,the actress who has just played the part of an old lady says that she would like to grow old like that character did.

    The subject of the film is not that of a slowly vanishing youth(Hermine is 36)but the regrets felt at a missed opportunity: the pleasures of the harbor,the quiet joys of a retired life when you grow old.In that context,the scene when Morlay plays her long gone dead mom and the children' s dance on a ring around her in the boarding house on the banks of the Annecy lake make sense.There's also that disturbing scene in the doctor's waiting room:this strange man complaining that time moves too fast who will return for a very short while at the very end of the movie gives the movie an eerie side.It's so brilliantly made that the viewer hardly notices it.

    Hermine Wood is the heroine's stage name.Her real name,oddly,is Blanche Du Bois!It cannot be a tribute to Tennessee Williams ,for "a streetcar named desire" was not yet written!
  • Written by Jean-Paul le Chanois, "Son dernier rôle" is the best movie directed by Jean Gourguet (with "Rayon de soleil" directed in 1929, a sunday in Paris and suburb shot on location, just like "les Hommes le dimanche" shot by Wilder, Ulmer, Zinnemann,.. a few months later). It's a fine melodrama about an actress with success (excellent Gaby Morlay). She meets a doctor who tells her about a serious desease and who falls in love with her. Bored by her jealous husband (excellent Marcel Dalio), she leaves to the mountains in a pension held by Jean Tissier (also excellent) , who also falls in love with her. Will destiny help her to find love again? There're 2 unusual fast scenes that make that film an excellent and original melodrama. To discover.