Désiré (1937)

Third film in the Guitry box is the first actual theatrical adaptation in the set, so obviously there are certain differences between it and the other two films we’ve seen so far… for one thing, the narrative here is more conventionally presented, and no doubt out of necessity, I don’t think Guitry’s theatre was all about avant-garde spectacle for some reason. Interesting to watch how he actually did adapt one of his plays to the screen, though. In this case he’s the valet Désiré, hired by Odette at the insistence of the latter’s lover, a government minister who doesn’t want to go to their residence at Deauville without a male valet as well as the female cook and maid; he comes with excellent references but also a history of indiscretions with previous mesdames, which he promises madame won’t happen again this time. Needless to say nothing exactly goes to that plan, and trouble ensues when each discovers they’ve been having kind of hot dreams about the other. And that’s before we find out that Odette has more than two admirers during the uproarious dinner scene where they have to contend with the old deaf woman. Guitry excels, obviously, as the servant who’s been there seen that, though all of the small cast are good, though I was particularly interested to see how he’d adapt the play for the screen. In this particular case, at least, it’s generally obvious that you are watching something written for the stage, he doesn’t really open it out or anything like that, but there are small accents throughout the film like the overhead shot during the dinner or the superimpositions in the dream bits. But really it doesn’t matter too much cos what he’s really busy doing is making sure the pace is kept up so you don’t really feel the theatricality too much. That’s three for three so far from the Guitry box, then…


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