Director: Marcel Carné
Cast: Jean Gabin, Michèle Morgan, Michel Simon, Pierre Brasseur
A deserter arriving penniless in Le Havre confronts both disinterested human kindness and predatory depravity in the people he meets. His inability to accept the latter, and his love for a café hostess, prevent him from sailing away under an assumed identity to freedom.
If you are looking for an illustration of poetic realism à la Prévert-Carné, you need go no further. It is present in every aspect of the production, encompassing setting and décor by Trauner (the yearning for escape to distant lands, the dingy yet modernist looking and providential shack occupied by Panama), dialogue (fatalist talk of love), casting and characterisation (the well-off, well-born characters are the rotten ones, the impoverished the salt of the earth, the artist a suicide, the stray dog a scion of loyalty), and then there's Schufftan's cinematography with its swirling mist and shadows affording both shelter and a murky moral disorientation. All this is expertly marshalled by Carné, backed by Jaubert's ambivalent music, so that one is left with a picture of humanity trapped in its various allotted roles, waiting for destiny to strike.