Recommendations for the day’s special screenings, this being France’s national day, when a mob went to the detention center at the Bastille fortress on the east side of Paris, decapitated the warden, and started something that seems to have no end in sight.
Double feature: Jean Renoir’s La Marseillaise (1938), one of the most lyrical, but least known, films of the master who made the Great War classic Grande Illusion (1937). The latter film also suggests placing Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory (1957) on the program, by way getting a sober perspective on the danger of military machines gone mad; you see this in the contrast between the heroism of the colonel played by Kirk Douglas and the abysmal cynicism of the brass against whose cruelty he tries to save his men.
Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca (1942), a salute to French patriotism, still has universal appeal. To be sure, said patriotism needed some help from its friends to do the job, but then so did ours, and the Bogart–Bergman classic reminds us that the Free France Forces owed much to Americans, and to the African rifles who filled the ranks of the legendary DDB, the second armored division that fought its way from the Brazzaville to Paris.
Actually, it is better to watch Renoir’s film last, seeing as how upbeat it is. And yet, and yet, in these troubled times, see also (at midnight, to show what follows revolution), the Abel Gance classic, Napoleon (1927). It being a silent, you can play Mark Knopfler’s “Done with Bonaparte” as accompaniment.
Get the popcorn — excuse me, the pate de foie gras and the champagne — and tomorrow, let us all go for a screening of The Alamo at the drive-in.