Marcel Pagnol’s warm-hearted tales of peasant life defined the international image of French cinema before the war. This 1940 example is about a well digger (the legendary ham Raimu) whose daughter (Josette Day, of Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast) is left pregnant and unmarried when her lover (Fernandel) is called up to fight; Raimu immediately initiates a battle with the boy’s parents, and hostilities subside only when the erroneous word arrives that the boy has been killed. Pagnol’s less-talented imitators (and they’re still at work) have seriously undermined the artistic value of his brand of “simple stories of simple people,” yet the originals still seem deft and appealing. In French with subtitles.
The Well-Digger’s Daughter
2 hours 50 min • 2012