Bizarre, Bizarre (1937)

“I said ‘strange’? How strange!”

Bizarre Bizarre Poster

Synopsis:
A botanist (Michel Simon) with a secret identity as famed crime novelist “Felix Chapel” goes undercover with his class-conscious wife (Francoise Rosay) when his sanctimonious cousin, Bishop Soper (Louis Jouvet), accuses him of spousal homicide; meanwhile, a serial killer (Jean-Louis Barrault) vows to murder Chapel in revenge for provoking his baser nature.

Genres:

Review:
Director Marcel Carne — best-known for his luminous wartime epic Les Enfants du Paradis (1945) — made more than 20 films in his lifetime, yet only a few (such as Le Jour se Leve and Le Quai de Brumes) are well-known to American audiences. Carne’s Bizarre, Bizarre (literally “Strange, Strange”) is an elaborate farce premised upon mistaken identities, calculated murder, and a generous skewering of class relations; it won’t appeal to all tastes, but its cast of esteemed French actors are all in prime comedic form, with hangdog-actor Michel Simon well-cast in the lead (double) role, and Jean-Louis Barrault (star of Les Enfants…) having fun with a radically different persona. Also known as Drole de Drame, ou L’etrange Aventure de Docteur Molyneux.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Michel Simon as Molyneux, a.k.a. “Felix Chapel”
    Bizarre Bizarre Simon
  • Louis Jouvet as Molyneux’s self-righteous cousin, Bishop Soper
    Bizarre Bizarre Jouvet
  • Jean-Louis Barrault as William Kramps, the “butcher murderer”
    Bizarre Bizarre Kramps
  • Several truly “bizarre” images and sequences
    Bizarre Bizarre Milk

Must See?
No, but it’s recommended.

Links:

One Response to “Bizarre, Bizarre (1937)”

  1. In synchronized agreement here.

    This is one that eluded me for quite a while – but it is on DVD now so was finally able to track it down.

    It’s certainly skillfully handled old-fashioned farce and, as such, is refreshing. Carne’s direction is sharp, the cast is very much “in prime comedic form” and the film (in the restored print that’s available) is beautifully shot.

    Those who appreciate this type of material will find it amusing and diverting. But ultimately probably not a must-see.

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