Daybreak (1939, Marcel Carné)

Jean Gabin (the year after Port of Shadows and La Bete Humaine) lives atop the Seventh Heaven apartment building. He shoots a guy, the cops arrive and shoot back. Barricaded in his room, Gabin embarks on a 90-minute flashback while waiting for the sunrise.

Gabin through a fractured window:

He was a factory worker, met lovely Francoise. But she’s sneaking away to see Valentin (Jules Berry of Renoir’s Crime of Monsieur Lange), a stage performer. Jean follows her to the theater, meets Valentin’s disillusioned girlfriend/sidekick Clara (Arletty, star of Children of Paradise) who quits both those positions and hooks up with Jean instead.

Francois and Francoise through the mirror in happier times:

But Jean still wants Francoise and vice-versa. Valentin says he’s not Francoise’s lover but her father. She says that’s bullshit. Valentin just wants the girl but he can’t have her because she’s in love with Jean. He comes to Jean’s place with a gun, gets plugged instead. Back in the present, a hopeless Gabin kills himself to end the standoff. Sad movie.

Gabin and Valentin, another mirror:

Notable for its long flashback dissolves. Remade with Henry Fonda and Vincent Price eight years later.

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