We think we’re just going to pack our things and move in to Film Forum until September 13. There’s a staggeringly thorough series beginning tomorrow at that premier New York repertory house, cheekily called The French Old Wave, and we want to see all of it. Programmed by Bruce Goldstein, the lineup contains decades’ worth of the films from the “cinema of quality” that the arbiters of the sixties’ New Wave railed against (“the crème de la crème of the era that François Truffaut, et al., needed to thumb their noses at,” says New York magazine’s David Edelstein). Most of these influential, brilliantly directed films are today beloved by cinema lovers around the world; others are less well-known, rare treasures from the likes of Maurice Tourneur (Justin de Marseille), Julien Duvivier (Poil de carotte), Jean Grémillon (Gueule d’amour), and Marcel L’Herbier (Le bonheur). From the heights of poetic realism with the actor Jean Gabin to the magical works of Jean Cocteau to the swooniest Max Ophuls melodramas, Film Forum’s selection is endlessly captivating.
Four of the films presented in this first week of the series are also part of the Criterion Collection—Jacques Becker’s tale of doomed love in the belle époque, Casque d’or (August 17 and 21), and three Gabin classics: Marcel Carné’s Le jour se lève (August 18 and 21), Becker’s Touchez pas au grisbi (August 22), and Duvivier’s Pépé le moko (August 22). The latter, with its suave criminal protagonist and fatalistic ending, was a revolutionary work that helped usher in the film noir genre. Check out the trailer for it below.