"Although awareness of this film is rather minimal today, it deservedly won an Academy Award in 1948 as Best Foreign Film.
Rather than sickingly sweet, as so many films with a religious motif tend to be (e.g. "Brother Sun, Sister Moon"), this one has a grit, irony, and wry humor that holds up under repeated showings. If you liked "A Man For All Seasons," there is a good chance you will like this effort, since it shares a kindred spirit.Any caveats? Yes, several. It is filmed in black and white, and the present quality leaves much to be desired. There are lots of scratches and and other defects that make continued watching something of a challenge. The sound quality also leaves much to be desired. My greatest hope is that some day we will see a digitally restored DVD worthy of the outstanding content of this remarkable film. It has appeared on several lists of great films of the 20th century; and it truly deserves to been seen in a much better version than currently available.On the other hand, the price is right. And considering you get to see a movie that is genuinely inspiring, thought provoking, uplifting, and an enduring classic ---- it's a much better buy than many tapes costing twice and three times as much."
Ana Braga-Henebry | Rural South Dakota | 10/27/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"No scratches, this is a brilliantly restored clean copy! Ignore the caveats from other reviews since they speak of the old VHS copy. I cannot find any reference online to the restoration but it is beautiful, we just watched it. We watched it from Netflix, same cover. English subtitles only-- a French class!"
Badger | Hillsboro, OR USA | 03/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"An old, unretouched film- just as I remember it. A moving portrayal of a man who's name is a household word, but who's life is largely unknown. It drives home the fact, relentlessly, that if the burden of poverty is great, the burden of those who seek to remedy it is equally so. A well crafted film and a learning experience besides, Monsieur Vincent is a true classic."
A film Hollywood would never make
pclaudel | New York City | 02/06/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Many decades ago, there was a television commercial for Levy's Jewish rye bread ("Jewish rye" is the product name used by the Levy company, not some sort of un-PC ethnic characterization). The punchline of the commercial was, "You don't have to be Jewish to love Levy's!" Evidently you didn't, because in New York at least, Levy's sold a lot of rye bread to the Gentiles.
Mutatis mutandis, "Monsieur Vincent" is the Levy's Jewish rye of films. You don't have to be Catholic or Christian or even particularly religious to see that this is one of the greatest films, tout court, ever made. Another Amazon reviewer recommended "Monsieur Vincent" to those who enjoyed "A Man for All Seasons." That recommendation is entirely reasonable, but whereas the latter film is sterling entertainment with laudable underlying values, the former film has genuinely life-altering potential in that it is truly a work of high art.
The film's director, Maurice Cloche, had a relatively successful career, but he was a creature of the commercial cinema, not self-consciously an "artist." To my knowledge, none of his other movies has comparable impact. The cinematographer, Claude Renoir, was renowned, however, and justly so. The grandson of a great painter, the son of a great actor, and the nephew of a great director, Renoir had the ability to use black and white to make images look far more real than color ever could (one is reminded of Stan Freberg's comment about radio: "it is the most visual medium"). Despite the presence of several shots where he flirts with staginess or with painterly proportions, Renoir never loses touch with or sight of the film's narrative and interpretative ends.
The film's star, Pierre Fresnay, is simply a great actor, one of the handful whose names come up whenever the very greatest film actors are discussed. His performance as Saint Vincent de Paul is a highlight in a career awash with highlights. The script that Fresnay and the other characters worked from was provided by Jean Anouilh. Though his name is virtually unknown in this country (except perhaps as the author of the play upon which the Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole vehicle "Becket" was based), Anouilh was one of the playwrights who made the first half of the twentieth century a second golden age of French drama. The tone of his dramatic work is frequently cynical and far from religious (in either the conventional or true sense of that word), but when a subject or a character gripped his imagination--as it does here--he was more than capable of laying sarcasm and ironic distance aside in the service of a higher goal. Echoes of the playwright's more familiar voice may be heard once or twice, but he never falsifies the saint's utterances.
No worthwhile film of a genuinely Christian cast has ever emerged from the barbarous maw of Hollywood. Thus, anyone who wants to see such a film must set his sights on Europe, where several--far too few, alas--can, with some effort, be found. No one who appreciates cinematic art will be disappointed by "Monsieur Vincent." No one seeking a film that imparts a sense of what sanctity looks like in the flesh need look any farther."
The Charity of Christ pressed him
Sharon Groetsch, DC | 10/30/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A superb b&w inspirational award winning classic about a great organizer of charity with and for persons who are poor. He also founder Religious communities, the Daughters of Charity of St.Vincent de Paul and the Vincentian Brothers and Priests, as well as a lay organization, the Ladies of Charity, in 17th century France where poor persons were left to die in the streets of Paris. His spirit continues to serve the poor through the Vincentian "Family" of these international communities as well as through the international organization, the St.Vincent de Paul Society. These communities administer works of charity and justice, including legislative advocay in behalf of persons who are poor. For information about these communities visit www.famvin.org "