Mademoiselle Fifi (1944)

Mademoiselle Fifi (1944)

“He’s a Prussian — he’s an enemy! I don’t eat with enemies!”

Synopsis:
During the Franco-Prussian War, a patriotic laundress (Simone Simon) refuses to dine with a German soldier (Kurt Kreuger), thus jeopardizing the plans of her fellow travelers.

Genres:

  • Class Relations
  • Historical Dramas
  • Literature Adaptation
  • Resistance Fighters
  • Robert Wise Films
  • Simone Simon Films
  • Val Lewton Films

Review:
Val Lewton produced and Robert Wise directed this competent yet decidedly uninspired war-time allegory, based on two short stories by Guy de Maupassant. At only 69 minutes long, it’s short yet dull, and comes across as little more than a vehicle for stirring patriotic fervor in WWII audiences. Simon’s character (NOT the “Fifi” of the title — that moniker is inexplicably assigned to the Evil Kraut she refuses to dine with) is held up in stark, idealized contrast to the stereotypically smug bourgeois folks she’s traveling with, most of whom fail to undergo any meaningful change over the course of the film. Simon is really the only reason to watch this movie — while no great actress, she at least exudes some much-needed character and personality.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Simone Simon as “the laundress”

Must See?
No. It’s listed as a Sleeper in the back of Peary’s book, but I’m not sure why.

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One thought on “Mademoiselle Fifi (1944)

  1. First viewing. Not must-see – but it’s not a bad film.

    Even though this isn’t a title to seek out particularly, I’m inclined towards it more than the assessment allows for. I found it of interest mainly since – in our own country – we’re now in a period of Resistance. ~not to the same degree, of course; still, the feeling of political oppression runs along similar lines.

    I would agree that Simon is the main reason to see the film. I would also agree that she may not be among the best actresses but she’s certainly capable within her range.

    Fans of the gothic films that Lewton mainly produced for RKO may also have interest in seeing how he brings the same kind of dark quality to this film – even though it’s not horror but the borderline dread of living in occupied territory.

    (I’ve had a lot of difficulty over the years, locating this film. But hunting down is part of what film fanatics do. 😉 )

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