17 July 2009 | dbdumonteil
1947:French people are still in a state of shock after the long German Occupation and the movies dealing with the resistance multiply.This one does,in a very particular way,since it begins with the release of a prisoner who would have collaborated during the war.
When I met Gilles Grangier shortly before he died ,I talked with him about one of his most mediocre movies ("Train D'Enfer" 1966),and with hindsight I realize I should have asked him about this one ,but I had not seen it at the time.
Gilles Grangier,often considered an academic director ,comes into his own in "Danger De Mort" ,with a directing only the French masters of the film noir,Clouzot and Duvivier -the latter reportedly liked the movie-could reach.The ex-prisoner,walking though the streets ,in a threatening atmosphere ,is an impressive moment,Grangier only filming his shadow on the sidewalk culminating in a reflection of his face in a mirror (one thinks of "M") A chemist is selling "Sirop Soleil" (= Sunshine Syrup)which he makes in his dispensary.He makes a colossal mistake ,putting cyanide in his medicine.And he has sold five small bottles ,one of them to the man mentioned above.The four other bottles take us to different milieus ,as the desperate chemist tries to save the patients without letting them know what he has done.
The best scenes take place in a circus ,where a dwarf (Pieral ,who was a true star in the forties and the fifties) is everyone's punching bag.Grangier's depiction of a child's nastiness gives the jitters.Filmed with a breathtaking simple virtuosity these scenes climax the movie.
Is the ending of the movie is really a happy end?I have my doubts.The baby did not cough last night" says the mother and the last sound we hear is a bell tolling .
Fernand Ledoux gives a superlative performance,but in the circus scenes ,the dwarf/actor steals the show .This is definitely a film to restore to favor if you are interested in the French oldies (but Goldies).