Mollenard

Mollenard is a 1938 French drama film directed by Robert Siodmak and starring Harry Baur, Gabrielle Dorziat and Pierre Renoir.[1] It was also known by the alternative titles of Hatred and Capitaine Corsaire. The film's sets were designed by Alexandre Trauner. It is based on the novel of the same name by the Belgian writer Oscar-Paul Gilbert. The film's plot divides sharply into halves, with the first an action thriller set in China while the second is a social drama with the title character struggling to cope with what he regards as the suffocating atmosphere of his home port in France.

Mollenard
Directed byRobert Siodmak
Produced byEdouard Corniglion-Molinier
Written byOscar-Paul Gilbert (novel)
Charles Spaak
StarringHarry Baur
Pierre Renoir
Gabrielle Dorziat
Albert Préjean
Music byJacques Dallin
Darius Milhaud
CinematographyEugen Schüfftan
Edited byLéonide Azar
Production
company
Productions Corniglion-Molinier
Distributed byPathé Consortium Cinéma
Release date
26 January 1938
Running time
106 minutes
CountryFrance
LanguageFrench

The film was shot at the Joinville Studios in Paris and on location. An English-language version starring Victor McLaglen and Ruth Chatterton was planned but never made.[2]

Plot

Captain Mollenard is an uncouth, almost piratical, commander of a merchant ship sailing out of Dunkirk. When the ship's owners discover that Mollenard has been selling arms on his own account, they decided to suspend him for six months. This horrifies his wife and children who have become used to his long absences. Mollenard hears news of his suspension while in Shanghai where he and his deputy Kerrotret are trying to offload their latest cargo of arms. They become engangled with a ruthless and treacherous criminal Bonnerot and his chief henchman Frazer. Although they succeed in wounding Bonnerot, he takes his revenge by having his men plant a timed explosive device on board Mollenard's ship.

When the device starts a fire Mollenard and his men abandon ship, and returning to France find that they are now being hailed as heroes. The company, for insurance purposes, has to play along with Mollenard's new status and have to consider giving him a new ship. Mollenard causes great offence to the respectable members of the town following his return, and his wife's hatred for him grows stronger. Mollenard suddenly suffers from a collapse in his health, and comes increasingly under the domination of his detested wife – to the point that he considers shooting himself. When Kerrotret is giving command of a new ship in place of Mollenard, he and the crew rescue him from the Mollenard household and take him to sea so that he can die where he belongs.

Reception

In France the film received a generally strong reception from citics. It was particularly popular with left-wing supporters of the Popular Front who celebrated its attack on respectable middle-class French society. When the film was released in the United States in 1941, critical reviews were much harsher. Variety described it as "a drab and tiresome character study of a man and wife who hate each other".[3]

The film was not a commercial success. Siodmak followed it up with the noirish Personal Column, which did well at the box office.[4]

Cast

References

  1. http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/63843
  2. Alpi p.96
  3. Alpi p.96
  4. Bock & Bergfelder p.447

Bibliography

  • Alpi, Deborah Lazaroff. Robert Siodmak: A Biography. McFarland, 1998.
  • Bock, Hans-Michael & Bergfelder, Tim. The Concise CineGraph. Encyclopedia of German Cinema. Berghahn Books, 2009.
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