Thursday, September 11, 2008

Club de Femmes (1936)

This movie is a French light comedy/drama and stars a very young Danielle Darrieux, so do I need to say more?!

The movie is also known as Women’s Club and Girl’s Club.
Director: Jacques Deval.
Cast: Danielle Darrieux, Valentine Tessier, Carol Royce, Else Argel, Josette Day.

Official Description: The lives of several residents of a 'Women Only' hotel are examined. 19 year-old Danielle Darrieux is charming as a dancer trying to sneak her boyfriend in "where no man can enter". Written by Jacques Deval.
Release date: May/June 1936 in France
Original run time in French: 106 minutes. USA release run time: 80/90 mins.

Definitively I’m interested in the original version with 106 minutes and you will find the reason why in the following synopsis/review.

The rarely seen comedy, Club des Femmes, is set in an all-women's hotel in Paris, established to provide an environment for women to interact and support one another. The main characters include an attractive lesbian, a young dancer with a healthy sex drive, a foreign student who becomes involved in a prostitution ring, and a man whose masculinity isn't threatened by dressing in drag.

With traces of the classic American screwball comedy, Club des Femmes expresses a variety of sexual attitudes. In this 1936 film we find a principal character who is clearly a lesbian but not defined stereotypically. Alice's tragedy is arguably not being a lesbian, but being in love with another woman who is unable to understand or return her affection.

Club des Femmes had a brief run in New York in 1937. However, it was a much shorter version with all nudity suppressed and large chunks of footage and subplots cut out. Key words were removed from the dialogue and subtitles were manipulated to reinterpret relationships. In spite of these changes, the film was still considered as too racy for the general public and never received national release.

Here is an excerpt of another review: On a more sober note, Else Argal plays the sensitive Alice, probably the first lesbian role in French cinema. Unlike in so many subsequent films, the subject is treated with great sensitivity and tenderness in this film.

There is a remake of the original movie that also has the same name but seems that they took out the lesbian interest; still seems interesting because Jean-Louis Trintignant, Nicole Courcel, Dany Carel and many other female actresses are here. The 1956 movie is directed by Ralph Habib.

Well, this seems like a quite remarkable movie that not only has a man in drag but also absolutely looks like a must be seen. The first poster is the original and the second one is from the vhs release, quite different, isn’t?

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