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'Children of Paradise,' a personal favorite: Kenneth Turan's pick

June 7, 2012 |  2:16 pm

Children of Paradise
One of cinema's most transporting and transformative experiences, the 1945 French romantic drama “Children of Paradise” is the title I most often cite when asked to pick an all-time personal favorite.

Set in the bustling theatrical world of 1830s Paris and revolving around four very different men in love with the same enigmatic woman (played by Arletty), this three-hour-plus epic, written by Jacques Prevert and directed by Marcel Carne, is generally considered the greatest French film ever made.

Those suitors include the chilling Lacenaire (Marcel Herrand), a cold-eyed and confident criminal/philosopher, and the equally self-centered, ramrod-straight Count de Montray (Louis Salou), one of the richest men in France. From the theater come Frederick Lemaitre (Pierre Brasseur), a practised seducer and the preeminent actor of his day, and, most memorably of all, Baptiste Deburau (Jean-Louis Barrault), the man who revolutionized the art of pantomime.

Its visual richness and splendid dialogue, when added to the humanity and complexity of its relationships, makes this one of the few films that has the durability and emotional texture of a great
19th century novel. Always one of cinema's most transporting experiences, in a
spectacular new restoration, this is a cinematic event not to be missed.

Holding over at Laemmle's Royal and Playhouse 7 and opening at the Town Center 5.


John Huston's 'Let There Be Light' online

'Untamed' Joan Crawford, 'Dangerous' Bette Davis

Swashbuckling good films from '30s, '40s: Kenneth Turan's DVD pick

— Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times film critic

Photo: "Children of Paradise." Credit: Criterion.

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