Casque D'or (Jacques Becker, 1952)
Jacques Becker's Casque d'Or is now recognized as a major classic of French cinema. Set in the Paris of the Belle Epoque, this tragic love affair between a gangster's moll and a carpenter has been hailed as Becker's greatest film and star Simone Signoret's most mythic role. Sarah Leahy examines Casque d'Or from a multitude of angles, including the film's costumes and setting, camerawork and editing, its narrative structure and cinematic style and the role of its stars. She also follows the vagaries of its reception: the film was received coolly by critics and public alike in its own country upon its release in 1952, yet it was loved in Britain and Italy. Leahy traces its trajectory from box office flop to its recognition as Becker's masterpiece. Casque d'Or is a paradoxical film - a melodrama which is noted for its authenticity and a costume film that shuns the spectacular - and this accessible guide explores these contradictions whilst also addressing the film's unique take on both genre and gender.Placing Casque d'Or in relation to other popular films of the 1950s and to the political context of the post-war era, Leahy provides insights into the cultural influences on the film's meanings and style. She also examines its place in the director's own oeuvre, revealing the ways in which Becker drew on French cinematic heritage - from Renoir to Carne-Prevert - to offer a unique perspective on the past within a film that remains absolutely of its time.
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