Repertory Picks

A Heartwarming Slice of Pagnol, Newly Restored

On Film / In Theaters — Dec 20, 2018

Starting tomorrow, Janus Films will bring Marcel Pagnol’s The Baker’s Wife to New York’s Film Forum for a weeklong stay, before whisking the movie to select cities around the country in the New Year. With this slice of life—made in 1938, right on the heels of the playwright’s first big-screen success, The Marseille Trilogy—Pagnol turned in one of his funniest and fondest depictions of the Provençal region, telling the tale of a middle-aged baker (Raimu) who suddenly refuses to bake after his younger wife (Ginette Leclerc) leaves him for a shepherd. A wonderfully perceptive script by Pagnol and a truly captivating performance, at once boldly comical and deeply touching, from his frequent collaborator Raimu help give rise to a wise, warm masterpiece. No surprise, then, that through the years it has won over an array of prominent admirers: Orson Welles called The Baker’s Wife “a perfect movie,” and J. D. Salinger approvingly referenced it in his classic novel The Catcher in the Rye, with Holden Caulfield citing his ten-year-old sister’s appreciation of the film as proof of her preternaturally sophisticated tastes.