Fanny (1961)

Fanny (1961)

“You’re dense, or hopeless — or both!”

In 1920s Marseilles, the daughter (Leslie Caron) of a fishmonger (Georgette Anys) is courted by an elderly widow (Maurice Chevalier), but longs for romance with the sea-loving son (Horst Buchholz) of a barkeeper (Charles Boyer).

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Charles Boyer Films
  • Joshua Logan Films
  • Leslie Caron Films
  • Love Triangle
  • Maurice Chevalier Films
  • Play Adaptation
  • Star-Crossed Lovers

Joshua Logan directed this Technicolor romantic drama based on a number of adaptations: Marcel Pagnol originally wrote two plays (Fanny and Marius) in 1929 and 1931, and turned them into films in 1931 and 1932, along with directing a third entry in the series, Cesar. A stage musical was created from all three in 1954 (with music and lyrics by Harold Rome), upon which this non-musical cinematic adaptation is based. (Whew!). The resulting film is lengthy, lush, and suitably melodramatic.

Critical reception was mixed: Bosley Crowther of the New York Times raved:

Whether fan of the Pagnol films or stage show, whether partial to music or no, you can’t help but derive joy from this picture if you have a sense of humor and a heart. For Mr. Logan, with the aid of expert craftsmen and a cast of principals that we do not believe an act of divine cooperation could have greatly improved upon, has given the charming Marseilles folk play a stunning pictorial sweep, a deliciously atmospheric flavor and a flesh-touching intimacy.

… but others were less happy, either complaining about how this film fared in comparison with Pagnol’s original trilogy, and/or lamenting the lack of songs. The film remains notable for Jack Cardiff’s beautiful cinematography:

… and for featuring movie veterans Charles Boyer and Maurice Chevalier together on screen for the first time.

While it’s not must-see viewing, fans of Logan or any of the stars — particularly Caron — will likely be curious to check it out.

Note: According to TCM’s Trivia page:

The running times of the original films in the trilogy are Marius, 121 minutes; Fanny, 125 minutes; and César, 124 minutes. By contrast, the remake runs 133 minutes, with less than an hour spent on the plots of the first two films and less than half an hour on the third.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Leslie Caron as Fanny
  • Jack Cardiff’s cinematography

Must See?
No, though it’s a must for Caron fans.


2 thoughts on “Fanny (1961)

  1. First viewing (5/30/22). Not must-see.

    English-language version of the classic French trilogy is rather faithful to the original and admirably capsulizes 3 French films to a little over 2 hours in English without sacrificing the source’s integrity. It’s reasonably well acted – without being particularly exciting. (But then I’m not all that much of a fan of the original films & feel they may be over-valued.)

    The contribution by DP Jack Cardiff is a plus – although Cardiff isn’t given enough opportunity to do what he does best.

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