Une Si Jolie Petite Plage (Such a Pretty Little Beach France 1949) (91 mins)
Released as Riptide in USA in 1951
Screenplay by Jacques Sigurd
Directed by Yves Allegret
Cinematography by Henri Alekan
Original Music by Maurice Thiriet
Produced by Emile Darbon
Pierre . . . . . Gerard Philipe
Marthe . . . . . Madeleine Robinson
Landlady . . . . . Jane Marken
Mrs. Cullier . . . . . Mona Dol
Fred . . . . . Jean Servais
Commercial Traveler . . . . . Julian Carette
Garage Owner . . . . . Andre Valmy
Orphan Boy . . . . . Gabriel Gobin
Jacques Sigurd, one of the last to come to “scenario and dialogue,” teamed up with Yves Allégret. Together, they bequeathed the French cinema some of its blackest masterpieces: Dêdée D’Anvers, Manèges, Une Si Jolie Petite Plage, Les Miracles N’Ont Lieu Qu’une Fois, La Jeune Folle.
– Francois Truffaut
A country priest on some banal errand cycles past a man walking in the rain to his doom, and then waves to a pair of village matrons, as relevant and as useful to the other rain-soaked pedestrian as the umbrellas held by the two women.
Savage irony, withering subversion, and desolation mark the rain-sodden angst of a young man’s end.
What is respectable is rotten, beauty masks filth; the melancholy song of a plaintive chanteuse from a record is a conspiracy of decadence and low greed. Eve is a woman of a certain age in mourning with a hunger for youthful sex and a penchant for cheap sentimentality. Lucifer is a lyricist and stool-pigeon in a grubby search for the jewels of a dead woman. Respectability is a travelling salesman who buys postcards of cemetery monuments for his son’s collection.
Truth and beauty are not poetry, but the simple and unaffected concern of one troubled soul for another. A woman caressing the brow of a condemned man in a desolate shack on the beach of perdition. The eve of the last day, two men work on a car, a murderer helping a mechanic, both strangers yet angelic comrades.
Solidarity meeting fate head-on. A last desperate attempt by the killer to redeem the child he was before and still is – lost in the sordid machinations and cruel exploitation of bourgeois hypocrisy.
The apotheosis of poetic realism and film noir, not on the dark streets of Los Angeles, but in a decrepit consumptive ville on the French coast. This is the true trajectory of noir released from the shackles of the studio enterprise: treacherous mud and dull clouds leading to a desolate beach of lost youth. Death the only escape – sur une si jolie petite plage.