Four Flights to Love

1939 [FRENCH]

Drama / Romance / War

IMDb Rating 7 10 185

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December 25, 2021 at 03:08 AM



881.11 MB
fre 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 35 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by dbdumonteil 7 / 10

Gone with the war.

Actually the right year is 1939.The title (lost paradise) tells it all.Like many works of the era,"paradis perdu" is an omen of the impending storm about to break.Abel Gance had already warned everybody with his remake of "j'accuse" two years before."Paradis perdu" is not really a manifesto,although it does include WW1 sequences ,it's actually a melodrama.Like "j'accuse" it features two distinct parts .People generally agree that the first part ,which describes the building of the "paradise" and the brief hours of happiness, is the strongest.The second part moves too fast :the daughter grows up overnight and there's a subplot (a love affair between the widower and a girl who is younger than his daughter) which gets in the way.At least it allows Abel Gance to regain his famous grandiloquence for the last sequence which compares favorably with that of Sirk's "imitation of life" .

Although Elvire Popesco is at the top of the cast ,the real star is Micheline Presles who portrays both the wife and the daughter.

Reviewed by writers_reign 6 / 10

Two-Ring Sirkus

The director credit may read Abel Gance but if the opening credits were somehow inadvertently omitted any reasonably knowledgeable film buff might be forgiven for thinking it was Doublas Sirk on bullhorn with a nod in passing - via the finale featuring a cluttered set and shots framed through the spokes of a wheel - to Jo Von Sternberg. Gance of course had a distinguished career and his place in the pantheon is assured - as is Sirk's albeit in a lesser pantheon - but this is definitely a minor work. Elvire Popescu, Romanian born but primarily associated with French cinema between the wars is given top distaff billing but far less screen time than Micheline Presle, who was, in my case, the main selling point. Just as the film as a whole resembles the Douglas Sirk of a later decade so Popescu is a look and act-alike of Zsa Zsa Gabor also of a later decade. The story is pure melodrama; two lovers share an idyllic romance in the lead-up to world war one, the wife dies in childbirth, the husband-father abandons the daughter until a tearful reunion; he becomes a successful fashion designer and dies nobly even as his daughter marries. Presle had been in the business a scant couple of years when she walked away with this and is, I'm happy to say, still going strong like Danielle Darrieux, her senior by five years; both had films out last year and long may they continue.

Reviewed by morrison-dylan-fan 10 / 10

"Dreams of love,happiness too short,oh paradise lost."

Entering a poll on ICM for the best films of 1940,I took a look at the French titles from that year,and found one from famous Silent movie auteur Abel Gance. Whilst Gance's epic Napoléon has come out on DVD/Blu-Ray,I was disappointed to find little sign of his "talkies." Nearing 1,500 reviews, I decided to take another look,and happily found the movie with Eng Subs!,which led to me walking up the four flights.

The plot:

At a dance party, struggling artist Pierre Leblanc exchanges dance moves with assistant dress designer Janine Mercier. Visiting Leblanc the next day in his flat,Mercier is met by a portrait Leblanc has painted of her. Falling deeply in love with each other, Leblanc's artistic eye leads to him trimming Mercier's clothes of "needless" material. Receiving applause from Mercier's fashion house, Leblanc is invited to redesign all their clothes. As they settle down and start bringing money in from the fashion house, Leblanc and Mercier hear the sound of World War I on the horizon.

View on the film:

Allowing the viewer to dress the beginnings of Leblanc and Mercier's relationship up, co-writer/(with Steve Passeur and Joseph Than) director Abel Gance & cinematographer Christian Matras give the early stages a comedic Melodrama mood, with a soft focus on the alluring new clothes, over lapping images of the couple on nights out and glittering bright lights capturing the care-free love between them. Well aware of the WWI horrors, Gance unleashes a siren warning call to a new "Great War"getting nearer, with the light in the Leblanc's marriage replaced with rich depth of field darkness,by Gance turning the Melodrama a black charcoal etched on the faces of the survivors.

Putting the dancing shoes of Mercier and Leblanc on,the writers give the early stage of the romance a sparkling mood, pouring from Leblanc's comedic, abrupt manner at becoming a fashion designer, and the playful, romantic exchanges Leblanc and Mercier share. Turning all that is sweet into dust, the writers brilliantly use the lightness of the early stages to heighten the Melodrama devastation, with a shocking tragedy leading the Leblanc's in misery,which they are only freed from in the poetic final.

Changing Leblanc across the decades, Fernand Gravey gives an incredible performance as Leblanc,that takes him from a dashing heartthrob to a torn man,with heavy tragedies crushing his shoulders. Playing not one, but two members of the Leblanc family, the elegant Micheline Presle gives an absolutely captivating performances as Mercier and Jeannette Leblanc,with Presle giving Mercier a thoughtful, timid manner,which is counted by the more free-spirited nature shown by Jeannette,as the Leblanc's go up the four flights of love.

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