Tag Archives: Ginette Vincendeau

In Conversation with Ginette Vincendeau — Part II

 

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Below is the second part of a two-part podcast with Ginette Vincendeau on Jean Gabin, which picks up a little before the first part ended. Once Gabin returned to top stardom in France in ´54/55, what values did he represent/signify? Does he mean something different in France than abroad? What is it and why? Is it true he didn´t make any good films after ‘Touchez-pas au grisby’ and ‘French Can Can’? What is the significance of him being cast with co-stars so much younger than himself like Bardot and Danièle Delorme? What does ´La France Gabinisée´and ‘La Gabinisation de la France’ mean. I ask the questions but it is Ginette´s answers that fascinate and illuminate.

 

I am grateful to Will Straw who brought to my attention the special issue of Schnock which featured Gabin and which asserted, in ways that are visualised below, that ´Gabin´means something different at home and abroad and that at home he signifies a particular type of Frenchness. This lead me to ask Ginette about it and she brought up Jean-Laurent Cassely´s book, No fake: Contre-histoire de notre quête dáuthenticité, and the concept of ‘Gabinisation’, as well as Ginette´s noting of how often ‘Gabin’ is turned into a verb: Gabinise, Gabiniser…

 

Will also brought up the interview with Nicolas Pariser in the October 2019 issue of Cahiers du cinéma, which I ask Ginette to comment on in the podcast:

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My rough translation is as follows: ‘Those films from the 50s where Gabin tells off young people are cinema´s absolute evil. In Rue des prairies, he bawls out Marie-José Nat because she does nothing and wakes up late. I have a bit of an extreme thesis: I think May ´68 was because of Gabin. He became unbearable at a certain moment. The cinema I love exploded that reactionary schema. And astonishingly we find  nostalgia for 50s cinema were the old explain life to the young in quite a few contemporary French Films’

I am also grateful to Nicky Smith for noting the difference in ages between Gabin and his female co-stars, and how this trope recurred in so many films. This lead to an interesting discussion with Ginette on this issue where Ginette notes how strong that trope is in French cinema in general, can be seen in the thirties in films like Arlette et ses papas (Henri Roussel, 1934) , and continues on quite late  and in various cultural forms(e.g. Serge Gainsbourg Lemon Incest). 

You can follow up on all of these issues through Ginette´s books below:

Furthermore, I have blogged on some of  Gabin´s later films, some mentioned in the podcast, and if you want to pursue that further you can click on the hyperlinks below.

Articles:

Voici le temps des assassins/ Deadlier than the Male (Julien Duvivier, France, 1956)

Miagret tend un piège (Jean Delannoy, 1958)

Maigret et l’affaire St. Fiacre (Jean Delannoy, France, 1959)

Le clan des Siciliens/The Sicilian Clan (Henri Verneuil, France/USA, 1969)

Le chat (Pierre Granier-Deferre, France, 1971)

Le tueur/ Killer (Denys de la Patellière, France/Italy, 1972)

On clips from:

Touchez-pas au grisbi (Jacques Becker, 1954)

Razzia sour la chnouf (Henri Decoin, 1955)

French Can-can (Jean Renoir 1955)

José Arroyo

In Conversation with Ginette Vincendeau – Part 1

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The first of two podcasts with the great Ginette Vincendeau on the great Jean Gabin. I´ve always been a fan of Gabin´s but my interest in him was revived by the ‘Jean Gabin: The Man With Blue Eyes’ retrospective curated by Edouard Waintrop at the 1919 Il Cinema Ritrovatto  in Bologna,  where aside from more familiar classics like Pépé le Moko (Julien Duvivier) and Le plaisir (Max Ophüls, 1951), I also had the opportunity to see Coeur de Lilas (Anatole Litvak, 1931), De haut en bas (George W. Pabst), Au-delà des grilles (René Clément, 1948), La Marie du port (Marcel Carné, 1949), and others.

I wanted to talk about all of this and find out more about Gabin. And who knows more about Gabin than Ginette Vincendeau? Ginette is Professor in Film Studies at King´s College London. As you can see from some of her various books above, she´s written on French Cinema of the 1930s, on Gabin specifically, on Gabin films in particular (Pépé le Moko), on directors Gabin worked with (Renoir) stars and stardom in French Cinema, texts in context in French cinema, etc. No one of my acquaintance knows more about Gabin and few are as much fun to talk to.

This above, the first of two podcast, covers the period up to 1954, where after a fallow post-war period Gabin once again re-emerged as a top box-office attraction. Who was Jean Gabin? How did he become a star? What did he represent in the 1930s and how is that significant in terms of class and national identity? How central is he to 1930s French Cinema. Was he allied to the Popular Front? There´s a narrative of failure around Gabin´s post-war career. Does that narrative hold up to scrutiny? These questions and others are discussed in this first podcast. The second will deal with the period from 1954 to his death in 1976.

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Some of my blogging and podcasting on Gabin films of this period, mostly arising from he viewing in Ritrovato, can be found by clicking the hyperlinks above and below:

 

La Bandera (Julien Duvivier, 1935)

Le jour se lève (Marcel Carné, 1935)

Martin Roumagnac (Georges Lacombe, 1946)

Podcast from Ritrovatto that touches on Gabin

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José Arroyo