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Drole de Drame
Drole de Drame
Actors: Louis Jouvet, Françoise Rosay, Michel Simon, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Jean-Louis Barrault
Director: Marcel Carné
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy
UR     2003     1hr 24min

From the creators of Children of Paradise comes a screwball comedy about a vegetarian serial killer. When the Archbishop of Bedford suspects his eccentric cousin of poisoning his wife and disposing of the body, he sets off...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Louis Jouvet, Françoise Rosay, Michel Simon, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Jean-Louis Barrault
Director: Marcel Carné
Creators: Eugen Schüfftan, Marthe Poncin, Edouard Corniglion-Molinier, J. Storer Clouston, Jacques Prévert
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy
Studio: Homevision
Format: DVD - Black and White - Dubbed,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 04/29/2003
Original Release Date: 03/20/1939
Theatrical Release Date: 03/20/1939
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 24min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: French, English
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

A first-rate absurdist farce. A true classic.
inframan | the lower depths | 05/24/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I've been looking for a good clean version of this film for many years, having spent many blissful & lucky summer hours at the old Thalia movie theater in NYC devouring the great French films of the 1930s. Now at last the treasure has arrived. Three of the giants of the golden age of French film are present in this film: Jouvet, Simon & Barrault, masters of farce, tragedy, voice, movement, gesture & innuendo. Drôle de Drame is a cornucopia of hilarious moments: Michel Simon catching flies & tenderly feeding them to his precious plants; Simon tripping with drunken blitheness down a flight of stairs. Jouvet careening from unctuous righteousness to lasciviousness to extreme paranoia. Barrault's ethereal & other-worldly & highly moral serial killer / poetic lover. Drôle de Drame is a fusion of classic French farce & theater of the absurd. One of my favorite scenes is the one in which the Chinese hoodlums determinedly & methodically mug a series of slumming drunks in order to collect their boutonnieres for a lover's bouquet. My next favorite is the kitchen enhusiastically overflowing with beautiful dadaist milk bottles delivered by a love-struck milkman in a surrealist costume.This was an early effort by Jacques Prévert & Marcel Carné who respectively wrote & directed the masterpiece, Children of Paradise. It's not a satire of British manners or mores at all, save perhaps for the more imagination deprived. It's a comedy of the human condition, a link in a wonderful chain of offbeat French films from Le Million to Boudu to Delicatessen & Amélie.Now, how about a set of DVDs of Marius, Fanny & César. Please someone?"
Droll, indeed; a terrific combination of complicated farce a
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 09/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If you think French farce is something you'll gladly pass by, consider Drole de Drame. Among other things, the film includes a vegetarian serial killer who disembowels butchers, a bishop of the Church of England who'd have God praying for forgiveness within 30 seconds, a professor of botany whose two loves are mimosas and carnivorous plants, as well as an imposing wife, a delectable maid and a milkman who delivers endless bottles of milk. "A Droll Drama, or the Strange Adventures of Professor Molyneux" takes place in Edwardian England, and may be best described for American viewers as a combination of Preston Sturges, French sophistication, the Marx Brothers, slapstick comedy and social pretensions. The film was written by Jacques Prevert and directed by Marcel Carne, who later collaborated on two classics of cinema (not just French cinema), Quais des Brunes and Children of Paradise.

Professor Irwin Molyneux (Michel Simon) is a bumbling, meek, henpecked man who loves his mimosas. His wife is the formidable Margaret Molyneux (Francoise Rosay), who is fully aware of their social status. The professor's dear cousin is Archibald Soper, the Bishop of Bedford, a man full of sanctimonious certitude who rails against "the cult of tawdry literature," namely, detective stories. "Detective Novel Readers are Future Murderers" says one banner where the bishop is preaching. The worst example of all is Felix Chapel, author of the hugely popular "The Perfect Crime." As we shortly find out, Professor Molyneux is actually the fictitious Felix Chapel, and no one knows this except his wife and Eva, their maid. Molyneux and his cousin heartily dislike each other and Margaret Molyneux can't stand the bishop. When Soper invites himself to dinner one evening (the cook already has left in a huff), Margaret agrees to cook the bishop's favorite, duck in orange sauce (the bishop takes two helpings), but refuses to make an appearance. The suspicious bishop, naturally enough, believes that Professor Molyneux has murdered his wife. When Professor Molyneux makes up some story about his wife having measles and has gone to visit friends, or is it that the friends have measles, the Bishop looks at the knife in his hand and says, "Bizarre, bizarre." "What is the matter," Molyneux asks. "With what?" "Your knife." "In what way?" Soper asks. "You looked at your knife and said 'Bizarre, bizarre,' so I thought... " "I said 'Bizarre bizarre'? How bizarre. Why would I have said, 'Bizarre, bizarre'?" "I assure you, my dear cousin," Molyneux says, "that you said 'Bizarre bizarre'." "Did I say 'Bizarre'? How bizarre..." The bishop decides to stay overnight, and later he calls Scotland Yard...

...and causes more mistaken identities, more coincidences and more conflicting motives than you can shake your head head. Not the least is that the butcher butcherer, William Kramps, blames his obsession all on Felix Chapel, and is determined to do to Chapel what he does to butchers. Mixed in with all the ridiculous situations is an underlying look at the pretensions of maintaining social status. The movie may be a terrifically engaging piece of nonsense, but there is enough middle class social satire to give the film a real edge.

Farce may depend on straight-faced situations and clever dialogue, but farce lives or dies on the skill of the actors. Drole de Drame is remarkable in the cast of extraordinary actors Carne put together. Michel Simon, big and shambling, is one of the slyest of actors, and one of the most nearly impossible to upstage. One of his great roles is as Boudu in Renoir's Boudu Saved from Drowning. Louis Jouvet, dressed in black, tall and lean with squinting, suspicious eyes, is immensely amusing. He hated films and only took on roles to pay for his life on stage. He and Simon detested each other as much as the characters they play do. Francoise Rosay as Margaret Molyneux moves through the film with complete assurance in her social status, yet she is so easily flattered into coy behavior. And Jean-Louis Barrault, that great actor who made his film reputation as the sensitive mime in Children of Paradise, is a revelation as William Kramps. He's a mad killer with the comedy timing of Bob Hope. "Life is so strange," he says to a nervous Molyneux, who is pretending to be a real-life Chapel. "Some people I see only once. I look at them. They're alive. And when I leave, they're dead." Kramps may be the only person in the film who is not concerned with social position.

The film, released by Home Vision Entertainment, looks very good. There are no extras. Useful liner notes are included in the DVD case."
Bizarre, surreal, unique
Robert D. Harmon | Mill Valley, CA | 07/16/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"It's hard to stereotype this very unique, very worthwhile bit of pre-war French comedy. It's not so much screwball as surreal (what WAS that fellow in drag doing at the Bishop's lecture?). Although set in Edwardian London it speaks more to French class absurdities. To cinema buffs, it's an early sample of the work that Marcel Carne would bring to its fullest in 1945's epic Children of Paradise -- not to mention an early role here by John-Louis Barrault, who would play Paradise's main role as the mime. Here, M. Barrault is the comic serial killer, funny, creepy, and very physical.

The film is hilarious but it's perhaps unique. Though it has some aspects of a comedy of manners, and absurdist farce, and many surreal moments that are truly Marxist (Groucho, not Karl), the mix is one of the most original in cinema.

The print is of excellent quality; the only thing keeping this DVD from five stars is its lack of any extras."