La Bandera. 1935. France. Directed by Julien Duvivier. Screenplay by Julien Duvivier, Charles Spaak. With Jean Gabin, Annabella, Robert Le Vigan. Recently restored by the Archives Françaises du Film, Duvivier's sensuous and brooding Foreign Legion melodrama was a commercial success and made Jean Gabin a star, helping to forge his romantic image, solidified in Pépé le Moko, as the doomed existential antihero haunted by a criminal past and driven toward death. Filmed in Spain and Morocco on the eve of civil war—the original theatrical release was dedicated to "Colonel Franco"—La Bandera is an Orientalist fantasy infused with the stylistic qualities of reportage, most notably in the tense chase sequence through the mean streets of Barcelona, about which Alistair Cooke observed, "It looks like an exquisite newsreel taken away and baked brown to give you the feel of the air." In French; English subtitles. 100 min.
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