Two Moral Tales (Eric Rohmer)

So Rohmer’s standard scenario for the Moral Tales was: male protagonist with one girl, tempted by another. Sounds easy. Let’s go.

The Bakery Girl of Monceau (1963)
Student is in love with girl Sylvie he passes on the street, finally builds up the nerve to talk to her. Then she disappears for a month. He spends his dinner hour that month looking for Sylvie, eating pastries from a bakery, and littering. Starts flirting with the pastry girl Jacqueline, finally asks her on a date, but he’s not serious about her. Suddenly Sylvie reappears, he makes a date with her the same night and stands up Jacqueline, because why waste time with her when the dream-girl is back in his life?

Short, black and white location-shot with a documentary look, no fancy camera tricks, told very straightforward with a narrator doing most of the talking. Interesting and probably a good intro to the Moral Tales, but not a great film on its own. Moral Tales producer Barbet Schroeder (who I now know better as an actor than a director) stars. Bertrand Tavernier, not yet a director himself, narrates. Michèle Girardon, who played Sylvie and starred in Eric Rohmer’s first feature in ’59, killed herself 12 years after the short was made.

Suzanne’s Career (1963)
Bertrand is kind of a shy, low-key guy. He likes popular girl Sophie, and is friends with obnoxious Guillaume. One day they meet Suzanne and Guillaume successfully schemes to get her into bed. She stays in their life constantly, so G. and B. conspire to start getting her to pay for all their outings. But she still hangs around, now she’s just broke. A few months later, G. is busy with school, B. is still trying to date Sophie, and Suzanne shows up happily married to Sophie’s ex. Her “career” was to land a husband, and given that G. and B. have made themselves look like jerks, it would seem that Suzanne wins at the end.

A good movie. Still black and white, higher proportion of dialogue to narration than in “Monceau” and mostly set in cafes and apartments, so less of a documentary feel but still very story/character based with no showoffy new-wave tricks. It seems that Rohmer is more Truffaut than Godard.

Presentation, or Charlotte and Her Steak (1951/61)
A weird one. Filmed in ’51 with Jean-Luc Godard and two actresses, then edited and overdubbed ten years later by Godard and two different actresses, and wedged into a collection of shorts that Godard made about the Charlotte character. Apparently she’s leaving “Switzerland” soon… on her way someplace hurriedly, she stops at her house pursued by Godard to have a bite to eat. He’s not allowed in, has to stand in the doorway, but she does give him some steak, then they go their separate ways. Can’t tell if the original short even had anything to do with the overdubbed story. A curiosity.

Nadja In Paris (1964)
More of a location documentary than a character study, following visiting student Nadja (her real name) through some of her favorite parts of the city.