La Traversée de Paris is a film Franco-Italian, realized by Claude Autant-Lara, release in 1956.

♦ Synopsis :

In 1943 in Paris, during the German occupation, Martin is a taxi driver to the unemployment which earns its living by delivering parcels for black market. The evening even, it must transport to foot four bags containing a cut out pig to the other end of the capital. It goes in the cellar of one named Jambier and y plays of the accordion while the animal is cut the throat of. This made, it moves with his Mariette wife towards the restaurant where it must find its accomplice. It learns there that this one has been just stopped by the police force. An unknown enters the restaurant then and, on a misunderstanding, fearing that it slipped an appointment with his wife, Martin invites it to share his meal and to work with him. This choice quickly proves calamitous, because this new character, certain Grandgil, is far from being flexible. It first of all grants a substantial wage increase by terrorizing unhappy Jambier. Then, it destroys the bottles of a bar where the two accomplices took refuge police force and treats the tenants of “bastards of the poor”. It goes even until striking a police officer in the district where Martin lives. And when, fleeing a German patrol, they end up taking refuge in the apartment of Grandgil, it is with amazement that Martin, discovers that it is about a painter of a certain fame which followed it only to be distracted. Prosecutor nevertheless their way, they arrive finally at the address of the delivery but find the door closed. They produce such a din then that the police force intervenes. In Kommandantur where they are taken along, a German officer recognizes the Grandgil painter. It is on the point of making them slacken when the assassination of a colonel is announced. The German officer does not manage to save in extremis that Grandgil tandis that Martin, him, share in deportation. The years pass, Paris is released, and we find Grandgil on a station platform of Lyon followed by a carrier of bags. Top of the window of the coach, Grandgil recognizes bearing Martin suddenly, like always, the bags of the others.

♦ Specification sheet :

  • Title : La Traversée de Paris
  • Realization : Claude Autant-Lara
  • Scenario : Jean Aurenche and Pierre Bost, adapted of the eponymic piece of news of Marcel Aymé appeared in the collection « le Vin de Paris ».
  • Dialogue: Jean Aurenche, Pierre Bost
  • Production assistant : Ghislaine Autant-Lara
  • Production : Henri Deutschmeister
  • Production : Franco-London Film (Paris), Continentale Produzione (Rome)
  • Director of production : Yves Laplanche
  • Distribution : S.N.A Gaumont
  • Music : René Cloërec
  • Director of the photography : Jacques Natteau
  • Operator: Gilbert Chain
  • Editing : Madeleine Gug
  • Sound : René-Christian Forget
  • Decorations : Max Douy
  • Make-up : Yvonne Fortuna
  • Furs : André Brun
  • Photographer of tray : Jean-Louis Castelli, Emmanuel Lowenthal
  • Script-girl : Geneviève Cortier
  • Manager : André Hoss
  • Poster designer : Clément Hurel
  • Film : 35mm - black and white
  • Edition : Laboratory Franay L.T.C Saint-Cloud, on color film
  • Shooting in the studios « Franstudio » and in Paris of April 7th till June 9th, 1956
  • Date exit : October 26th, 1956
  • Country origin : France-Italy
  • Genre : comedy drama
  • Duration : 80 minutes
  • Every public


♦ Distribution :

  • Jean Gabin : Grandgil
  • Bourvil : Marcel Martin
  • Louis de Funès : Jambier
  • Jeannette Batti : Mariette Martin
  • Jean Dunot : Alfred Couronne
  • Harald Wolf : The German commander (not credited)
  • Robert Arnoux : Marchandot
  • Georgette Anys : Lucienne Couronne
  • Monette Dinay : Mme Jambier
  • Myno Burney : Angèle Marchandot
  • Jacques Marin : The boss of the restaurant
  • Bernard Lajarrige : The policeman
  • Anouk Ferjac : The girl during the alert (not credited)
  • Hubert Noël : The settled gigolo (not credited)
  • Béatrice Arnac : The prostitute (not credited)
  • Jean/Hans Verner : The German motorcyclist
  • Laurence Badie : The waitress of the restaurant
  • Claude Vernier : The German secretary of the Kommandantur
  • Hugues Wanner : The father of Dédé
  • Paul Barge : The farmer with his cow
  • Marcel Bernier : The serviceman on the platform of the station
  • Georges Bever : The consumer
  • Germaine Delbat : The woman to the restaurant
  • Clément Harari : The hostage in glasses
  • René Hell : The father Jambier
  • Hubert de Lapparent : The nervous hostage
  • Franck Maurice : The newspaper seller
  • Albert Michel : The caretaker of the building
  • Michèle Nadal : The girl at the exit of the subway
  • Maryse Paillet : The woman to the restaurant
  • Jean Vinci : The dissatisfied customer to the restaurant
  • Louis Viret : The cyclist
  • Yvonne Claudie : The old prostitute
  • Lita Recio : The voice doubling Yvonne Claudie
  • Martine Alexis : Operator German
  • Yvette Cuvelier : The Jewish handmaid to Couronne
  • Anne Carrère : To confirm
  • Emile Genevois : To confirm
  • René Brun
  • Henri Lambert : To confirm

♦ Comments :

Claude Autant-Lara deploys all his insolence and his taste for the provocation in this joke caustic and squeaking having for historical framework the German occupation. Two accomplices that all opposes, the character and the social position, cross Paris the night to deliver a pig to black market. On this fragile argument, a series of adventures and a gallery of portraits develop which constitute a denunciation of through darkest one time at the same time as a virulent social criticism.
The two superstars which are Bourvil and Jean Gabin give to it with liveliness the counterpart while beside them, some Louis de Funès, finds one of its first great roles.
It is probably about the masterpiece of Claude Autant-Lara and, in an any state of cause of great classic of French cinema.

An initiatory course:

The crossing of Paris east without any doubt an initiatory course. Grandgil painter whose talent is temporarily suspended because of the war distracts and trains by the provocation Marcel Martin a taxi driver to the introverted unemployment which for lack of insurance is let handle by its environment.
This long walk of night through the districts of Paris which succeeds the anthological scene of the bargaining of the transport of the bags will make it possible Grandjil to expose to Martin for concrete examples the limits of the human race. The scene of the coffee where Grandjil is released in company of Martin temporarily released of its prejudices is a perfect example of this verbal overflow and physics which one can condemn.
Martin is hustled by outrageous extravagances of Grandjil. It is caught with the play power which represents this disillusioned painter who has fun to destabilize his contemporaries that it considers weak and without scales by sour remarks.

This advance in Paris especially in its conclusion however will position Grangil in a responsible role where it will have to show of wisdom and reflexion to save the life of his comrade.

♦ Around the film :

  • The choice of Bourvil for the role of Martin was the subject of a so violent opposition on behalf of Marcel Aymé whom it ends up worrying the production. Claude Autant-Lara, which was due to its choice, had to decrease its budget of more than 50%, thus giving up with the color, to obtain any freedom as for the casting. Marcel Aymé recognized his error there after relating to Bourvil, adding moreover: "It is really the all first time that one did with the cinema something drawn from one of my books which is not only well, but of a very great quality. And in this particular case, it was not easy".
  • Before this masterpiece, Andre Bourvil had never worked with Jean Gabin. Their first scene was precisely that of the first meeting between Martin and Grandgil. When Gabin return (of back) in the bar and launches one "Good evening" worrying: the actor Bourvil was terrified...
  • The technical team is visible twice in film. When Batti sleeve-board a soap tends to Jean Gabin at the beginning of film: one can see perfectly, the one second space, the solid drop shadow of the camera on the actress. When Andre Bourvil sees Batti sleeve-board who was on the point of leaving it, Gabin leaves the building alone. When Gabin leave the corridor: it is seen very clearly that an assistant closes again the door behind him…
  • In the twilight of its career, Claude Autant-Lara will realize an unavowed remake of La Traversée de Paris. Massacred by criticism, the film will however be excellent - and of a very great blackness. It is about film Les Patates realized in 1969 with Pierre Perret and Henri Virlojieux.
  • Colour application of a film like La Traversée de Paris is a perfect ineptitude. The tight budget of film encouraged Max Douy (celebrates decorator chief) to carry out districts entirety of Paris in studio. The expressionnists influences of the artist (already visible in other films) explode in certain sequences of La Traversée de Paris. Moreover, the film is certainly one of the rightest visions and more seizing period of the occupation to the cinema. The force of the treatment lies obviously in the presence of one black and white very contrasted and worrying…
  • The final meeting again parks of Lyon, minutées by the departure of the train of Grandjil, are of a very great emotion. This disillusioned exit, that Claude Autant-Lara would have waited five years before turning (it had acquired the rights in 1950), dissociates itself completely the news of Marcel Aymé in which Grandjil is killed by Martin who incarnates the honor of the proletariat against the cynicism of an idle middle-class.
  • Autant-Lara and Bourvil will turn three years later another adaptation of Marcel Aymé: La Jument verte.
  • Louis de Funès one of its first great roles obtains : that of the grocer Jambier. It is only one second important role, but it bursts the screen, in particular at the time of the scene of confrontation with Jean Gabin.
  • Gabin and De Funès will find themselves in 1962 for Le Gentleman d’Epsom and in 1968 for Le Tatoué.

♦ Distinctions :

  • Cut Volpi for best male interpretation for Bourvil with Mostra of Venice 1956.
  • Price of best film by the French trade union of the critic of the cinema 1956.
  • Nomination for Gold lion Mostra of Venice 1956 (This same year none Gold lion was not decreed).
  • Nomination for Jean Gabin with BAFTA 1957 in the category "better foreign actor" (Prize awarded to Henry Founded for Twelve Angry Men).
  • Méliès price in 1957.

♦ Quotations :

  • Grandgil (Jean Gabin) / Jambier (De Funès) :

" Mister Jambier, 45 street Poliveau, for me, it will be 1000 F... Mister Jambier, 45 street Poliveau, maintaining it is 2000 F... I wanted to say 3000.
— It is serious ?
— How if it is serieux  !...JAMBLIER JAMBIER JAAAAMMBIER !"

  • Grandgil (Jean Gabin)  : " Bastards of poor men ! "
  • While they hide in a bar, Grandgil takes to party the bosses, who want to give them to the police :

"No but look me at the good-looking there, with its alcoholic's face and its grey meat… With the lung everywhere; of the lung, the lung, has him that of the lung ! But you are going not to change mouth one day you, no? And other one there, ridiculous woman, her face in gelatin and lard, three chins, the tits which go downhill on the brioche… Fifty years each, hundred years for the lot, hundred years of bullshit! But what what is what you came to do on Earth, God's name? You are not ashamed to exist?"