29 November 2010 | lor_
Minor dramedy, for my eyes only
SHADOW OF A SUMMER is a very minor French dramedy that has slipped away in the mists of time. I was very glad to see it recently as it stars many of my favorite thesps.
It's a slim romance, as dastardly cad Maurice Ronet conspires to get innocent young Josephine Chaplin to fall in love with him, angling to get a big monetary payoff which isn't there. His girl friend Marika Green is no impediment and his ancient father Charles Vanel serves as a conscience figure, which Ronet sorely needs -he's a bastard.
That's about the entire plot line, with the film's best scene being an extended "meet cute" sequence getting Ronet & Chaplin together in the first place. Director Jean-Louis van Belle made an odd mixture of action, horror, comedy and sex movies during his career, including other Marika Green vehicles, and even has a short documentary about his career issued by video distributor Mondo Macabro, but doesn't impress me after seeing this one.
But he sure rounded up an unusual cast! Maurice Ronet is the perfect cad -I can't think of another actor from the glorious era of the '50s through '70s who consistently projects such an alluring but negative personality -even better at it than say Hollywood's Louis Jourdan. I had the pleasure of interviewing Josephine Chaplin 25 years ago in NYC, and always have felt bad that she could not carve out a successful career like her sister did, and she is great in this film. Apparently Ronet dug her too, as they got together romantically in real-life at this time.
Marika Green won me over forever as the tall, tall counterpoint to star Marlene Jobert in RIDER ON THE RAIN, also a fateful teaming as her brother visiting the set married Jobert and current Franco/Anglo star Eva Green is their daughter, and Marika's niece as a result. Her big role was being very sexy in EMMANUELLE opposite Sylvia Kristel and like Chaplin she never made the big time. Rounding out the cast and stealing his scenes is a very old-looking Charles Vanel, one of the all-time greats. The film he directed and starred in, DANS LA NUIT, is a treasured memory for me, dating back from the Silent Era.