Le magot de Josefa (1963) - Claude Autant-Lara


 Josefa is an Italian immigrant operating a small grocery store in France. The people of the town are indifferent to her until the rumor she will receive a monetary fortune from an American gangster relation. The mayor tries to butter her up, and a stranger poses as her long-lost son. Everyone in town treats her with respect over her impending financial windfall...

IMDB Comment: This bucolic French comedy is a latter-day (but very minor) work by a renowned film-maker – despite utilizing the services of his legendary in-house screen writing duo of Jean Aurenche and Pierre Bost – as much adept at serious subjects as droll ones. The female lead here is an Italian shopkeeper – played by a typically shrill Anna Magnani – who is thought to be wealthy (even by her own crooked offspring living in Paris) due to her former association with a gangster, but is actually penniless (though she still contrives to present the local curate with a juke-box!). In fact, the boy conspires with another man (popular comic Bourvil, in his third and last film with the director) to fleece the woman of her money after the latter claims to have been involved in a car accident with Magnani's son!; needless to say, the indomitable lady will have nothing to do with Bourvil, so he turns for help to the Mayor (Pierre Brasseur, in his second of three films with Autant-Lara) – who, as it happens, is the boy's real father even if Magnani cannot stand him! To complicate matters further, the woman has her hands full trying to keep rowdy, drunken patrons at bay – which eventually leads to the most vociferous (and irritating) among them to incite the others to break into Magnani's shop while she is away and accidentally burn it down! Having confessed to Bourvil her predicament, the two become friends (she even forgives her son's impertinence on learning that he is a talented, if still struggling, lyricist – with Bourvil supplying the music and vocals to the songs himself!) and, eventually, they leave town together. Ultimately, while the material at hand is clearly unworthy of its stars and director, the film emerges as a harmless (if rather dim) diversion for their fans.


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carabao said...

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