Sunday, October 4, 2015

Mademoiselle Fifi (1944)

Pretty seamstress Elizabeth (Simone Simon) shares a coach ride with a variety of upper class people during the Franco-Prussian war. When a German officer called Mademoiselle Fifi (yea, the strapping dude played by the dashing Kurt Kreuger had a lady's name - that wasn't properly explained) holds up the coach until she dines with him, the others at first support her defiance. When they realize how much their business interests suffer by her defiance, they convince her to "Dine with" him. She dines with him but the others assume that she "dined with" him, but in reality she just dined with him. They are cold to her when the coach is allowed to continue.

At her destination also arrives the new priest. The old priest would not ring the church bell out of defiance to the Germans. The officers make all the pretty seamstresses wear "lady of quality" dresses so that they can have a party with them. At first Elizabeth defies them but she is convinced by the others that they will lose their jobs if she does not go.

Based on a Guy de Maupassant story (as was the basic premise of Stagecoach), this is a story about people standing up to a threat even though their personal interests are in jeopardy. Something not lost on 1944's France. In the original story Elizabeth was no seamstress and she totally "dined with" Fifi, nudge nudge. Also, the fifi nickname was an implication that he preferred to dine with men.

Hey, look, Batman's Alfred! He was also in Cat People. Also, Jason Robards' father. Lots of contract players here.

This movie hit my radar because it A) was produced by Val Lewton, B) was directed by Robert Wise, and C) starred the adorable Simone Simon. While the sets were excellent and it was wonderfully directed, it was something of a snoozer. Maybe the story resonated better during the war.

Glad I saw it, held my interest, won't see again. AMRU 3.

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