14 May 2020 | ulicknormanowen
She 's the devil in disguise.
Based on an Alphonse Daudet novel, the end of which was watered down : theres 's no redeeming in the book in which Raisler Sr finds solace with Frantz , his kid brother.
Mireille Balin portrays Sidonie ,a beautiful go -getter whose ambitions are fixed high .She marries a man who could be her father ,Raisler ,because he runs a factory ,in collaboration with young Fremont who fast becomes her lover .
Both Raisler , busy inventing a new machine and Claire, Fremont 's unfortunate wife ,taking care of her baby girl, are totally unaware of their misfortune . Sidonie's style of living is so expensive that she almost folds the mill ...
Sidonie is abetted by Anna Dobson (Marguerite Pierry almost upstages Balin), a piano teacher ,who is really her evil genius and urges her to live life to the full ; this mysterious American does not show any respect for Sidonie 's husband .Her attitude is not explained in the movie (she was married to a dentist who would beat her,and since her hatred for men is boundless; this is passed over in silence )..She goes through life as an onlooker : a plain woman ,she can't play a part in this dangerous liaisons,so she approves of them ,finding pleasure in watching the others' sufferings . Mireille Balin is the perfect wily woman ,and she forms with her teacher a dreadful pair :there's a similar situation in Grémillon 's "gueule d'amour" in which Balin and her mother stalk rich preys.
This is melodrama ,with plenty of characters who revolve round Sidonie : Frantz ,her brother-in -law who tries to take her away to Africa ,Désirée ,a lame girl whose love dreams will never be fullfilled ,Sigismond the honest accountant (Pierre Larquey)who sounds the bell when the mill is about to go bankrupt.
Leon Mathot's directing is just OK ; the beginning may be difficult to follow, because many characters are introduced at once.