Film Notes: Apartado de Correos 1001 (1950) directed by Julio Salvador

ES / 90 minutes / B&W / Emisora Films Dir: Julio Salvador Pro: Miguel Grau Screenplay: Julio Coll, Antonio Isasi-Isasmendi Cine: Federico G. Larraya Mus: Ramón Ferrés Ed: Antonio Isasi-Isasmendi Cast: Conrado San Martín, Tomás Blanco, Modesto Cid, Manuel de Juan, Elena Espejo, Emilio Fábregas, Ricardo Fuentes, José Goula, Marta Grau, Casimiro Hurtado Release Date 5 December 1950 (Spain). Apartadodecorreos1001

Synopsis: A young man named Rafael is killed openly in the street in front of Barcelona Police Headquarters. The two agents from the crime squad in charge of the investigation, Miguel and Marcial, discover, in the room of the victim, a copy of La Vanguardia newspaper in which it has been underlined an advertisement requesting an administrator for a chemical products company upon payment of a substantial deposit and with instructions of writing to PO Box 1001 for more information. This sole clue will lead to the arrest of the murderer.

Begoña and I had the chance to see last night on TV2 this very interesting film that could have been lost forever. Fortunately, it was recovered and, although the quality of the film, sometimes, is not in very good conditions, it’s worth watching it. Together with Brigada criminal (1950) directed by Ignacio F. Iquino, Apartado de Correos 1001 marked the emergence of Spanish detective films, occasionally named Spanish Film Noir. However, I don’t believe it can be considered as film noir, in its true sense, but is not far from the Italian Neo-Realism. It should be highlighted that, although due to budgetary restraints, it was one of the first times that the cameras, in a fiction film, were taken out to the street in Spain. An essential film to understanding the history and evolution of Spanish cinema.

Film poster downloaded from Wikipedia here.

Film Notes: Zero for Conduct (1933) directed by Jean Vigo

FR / 41 minutes / B&W / Gaumont Dir: Jean Vigo Pro:Jean Vigo Scr: written by Jean Vigo Cine: Boris Kaufman Mus: Maurice Jaubert Cast: Louis Lefebvre, Gilbert Pluchon, Gérard de Bédarieux, Constantin Goldstein-Kehler, Jean Dasté, Robert Le Flon Release Date: It was first shown on 7 April 1933 and was subsequently banned in France until 15 February 1946 Original title: Zéro de conduite: Jeunes diables au collège

Plot Summary: A number of boys return to a French boarding school after vacation. They must follow certain behavioural codes in the school or receive a “zero for conduct” and be punished. One particular group of students plans to revolt against their tyrannical and eccentric schoolmasters during an alumni ceremony. When the event begins, the boys climb the roof of the school and rain tin cans and other garbage on the formal occasion and its participants. (Source: filmphest.com)

Although this is not strictly crime fiction, I watched this film for my participation in Rich’s meme Crimes of the Century at his blog Past Offences The year for February 2016, is 1933. After all, it’s a crime the way of understanding education in certain cases.

Zéro de conduite (1933) is one of the four films by French filmmaker Jean Vigo, the previous to his last one, L’Atalante (1934), and follows his two short documentaries À propos de Nice (1930) and La Natation par Jean Taris aka Taris, roi de l’eau (1931). It is also his most well-known work and the film for which he’s recognised for his contribution to the further development of French cinema and the famous “nouvelle vague”. Jean Vigo died in 1934 at the age of 29.

Zéro de conduite is actually a relatively short film, a featurette, based extensively on Vigo’s own experiences at a boarding school. It was shot from December 1932 until January 1933 with a budget of 200,000 francs, and Vigo used mostly non-professional actors and sometimes people that he spotted on the street. The film’s soundtrack was poor in quality due to budgetary constraints, but Vigo’s talent and professional skills, serve to cover any deficiencies and to make the film easily comprehensible.

The premiere shocked many audience members who hissed and booed Vigo. Other audience members, most notably Jacques Prevert, loudly clapped. French film critics were strongly divided about the film. The film’s most vocal critics included a French Catholic journal which called it a scatological work by “an obsessed maniac.” Zéro de conduite was quickly banned in France with some believing that the French Ministry of the Interior considered it a threat capable of “creating disturbances and hindering the maintenance of order.”

Like all of Vigo’s work, Zéro de conduite first began to be rediscovered in about 1945 when a revival screening of his films was organized. Since then its reputation has grown and it has influenced such films as François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows and Lindsay Anderson’s if…..Its influence can also be detected in Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night. Nowadays it is available for free download at the Internet Archive.

In essence, the film is a hymn to freedom and to revolution. The performance of the actors, and more specifically of the boys is excellent. The film provides a realistic portrait of the boarding schools of the time, whose practices I would like to believe have already been abolished. And I do hope that we never lose the innocence and free spirit of childhood.

Latest Acquisitions

Rain Dogs (Detective Sean Duffy) by Adrian McKinty, Serpent’s Tail publicity page

Tell No Tales (DI Zigic & DS Ferreira) by Eva Dolan, Vintage publicity page

Nightblind (Dark Iceland) by Ragnar Jónasson, tra. Quentin Bates, Orenda Books publicity page

Goya Awards

widget-goya Truman (2015) directed by Cesc Gay was the top winner in the 30th edition of the Spanish Academy Film Awards with 5 Goyas. You can access my film note about Truman here.

The full list of winners by categories is available here.

Besides Truman, I’ve seen El clan (2015) directed by Pablo Trapero, Goya Award for Best Iberoamerican Film.

I’m looking forward to seeing Mustang (2015) directed by Deniz Gamze Ergüven, Goya Award for Best European Film, which is set to premiere in Spain on 11 March, 2016, and is nominated to the 88th Academy Awards, in the Foreign Language Film category.

Congratulations to the winners.

Review: Lock Nº 1 (1933) Inspector Maigret #18 by Georges Simenon (trans. by David Coward)

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

Penguin Edition, 2015. Format: Kindle. File size: 646 KB. Print Length: 176 pages. First published in 1933. New translation by David Coward, 2015. This novel has been published in a previous translation as The Lock at Charenton. ISBN: 978-0-141-97952-6. ASIN: B00OZ4XGGM.

I provide this entry, to participate in Rich Westwood’s meme, Crimes of the Century, at his blog Past Offences. The year under review this month of February is 1933.

cover.jpg.rendition.460.707

After a night of heavy drinking, somebody named Gassin falls into the water and finds a man nearly drowning. The man turns out to be Gassin’s boss, Émile Ducrau, owner of tugboats and quarries in Charenton. Once taken ashore, the police find out that Ducrau was knifed before being thrown into the canal waters and, though the incident is settled without victims, inspector Maigret is called to investigate. The next morning, Maigret arrives at Charenton (Val-de-Marne), a commune in the suburbs of Paris, close to the confluence of the rivers Marne and Seine, just 6.2 km from the centre of the French capital. Both men, Maigret and Ducrau, get along well and Ducrau offers 20,000 francs to anyone who can solve what actually has happened. At Gassin’s barge, the Golden Fleece, Maigret comes across Gassin’s daughter, Aline a young woman with intellectual disability who has a small baby, although Ducrau is not the father as Maigret had come to believe initially. Later on, when both, Maigret and Ducrau, are at the Tabac Henri-IV, a bar in the centre of the Pont Neuf, a meeting place for freighters, news arrives that Ducrau’s son, a young man called Jean, has hanged himself leaving a written note in which he confesses it was him who stabbed his father. The next day, another body appears hanged in a navigation lock and meanwhile, Ducrau offers a well paid job to Maigret after finding out that Maigret has asked for early retirement and will soon leave the police judiciaire. Nevertheless Maigret turns down the generous offer. Finally, Ducrau invites Maigret to spending the weekend  in his country house at Samois-sur-Seine (Seine-et-Marne) near the forest of Fontainebleau, where Maigret discovers the truth.

Lock Nº1 aka The Lock at Charenton, is the 18th instalment of Georges Simenon’s famous Inspector Maigret book series. It was originally published in French as L’ecluse no. 1 serialised in Paris-Soir from 23 May to 16 June 1933 and published in book form by Fayard in 1933. As a matter of fact this was his penultimate Maigret novel published by Fayard. In fact, over the course of the story we have learned that Maigret had decided to ask for an early retirement.  As usual, Simenon has been able to create the necessary atmosphere and tension in which the action unfolds, like no other writer has done before. And, while it’s certain that his plots are extremely simple, it is nonetheless true that any shortcoming in this sense is fully rewarded by the quality of his prose. Besides, as an observer of human behaviour, Simenon is almost unrivalled. I can’t overlook, that his stories are often rather bleak and sad, and the environments in which the action takes place are depressing. Maybe his books are not suitable for every taste and moods, but I have started to appreciate every day more this extraordinary book series. I feel particularly attracted by the way in which Maigret solves his cases, quite often just by talking with the people involved. In a certain sense, he reminds me of the way how Commissaire Adamsberg conducts his investigations. If I had not mentioned it before, I’ve really enjoyed this book and I can only  recommend it.

My rating: A (I loved it)

Georges Simenon was born on 12 February 1903 in Liège, Belgium, and died on 4th September 1989, in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he had lived for the latter part of his life. Between 1931 and 1972 he published seventy-five novels and twenty-eight short stories featuring Inspector Maigret. Simenon always resisted identifying himself with his famous literary character, but acknowledged that they shared an important characteristic:

My motto, to the extent that I have one, has been noted often enough, and I’ve always conformed to it. It’s the one I’ve given to old Maigret, who resembles me in certain points …’understand and judge not’.

Penguin is publishing the entire series of Maigret novels. (Source: Penguin Classics)

Other Maigret novels reviewed at A Crime is Afoot:

The Yellow Dog (1931) Inspector Maigret #5 by Georges Simenon

The Madman of Bergerac (1932) Inspector Maigret #15 by Georges Simenon

Liberty Bar (1932) Inspector Maigret #17 by Georges Simenon

Maigret, aka Maigret Returns (1934) Inspector Maigret #19 by Georges Simenon

You can read also: A Reader’s Guide to Simenon by Patrick Marnham

External links:

Penguin Books Limited publicity page

Penguin Random House publicity page (Read an excerpt)

L’Écluse n° 1 

L’écluse n°1 (in French)

Maigret of the Month: June, 2005: L’écluse n° 1 (The Lock at Charenton)

Author’s Website 

Maigret Bibliography 

La esclusa número uno de Georges Simenon

Ofrezco esta entrada, para participar en el meme de Rich Westwood, Crimes of the Century, en su blog Past Offences. El año examinado este mes de febrero es el 1.933.

Después de una noche bañada en alcohol, un tal Gassin se cae al agua y se encuentra a un hombre a punto de ahogarse. El hombre resulta ser su jefe, Émile Ducrau, propietario de remolcadores y canteras en Charenton. Una vez sacado del agua, la policía descubre que Ducray fue acuchillado antes de ser arrojado a las aguas del canal y, aunque el incidente se resuelve sin víctimas, el inspector Maigret es llamado a investigar. A la mañana siguiente, Maigret llega a Charenton (Val-de-Marne), una comuna en el extrarradio de París, cerca de la confluencia de los ríos Marne y Sena, a solo 6,2 km del centro de la capital francesa. Los dos hombres, Maigret y Ducrau, se caen bien y Ducrau ofrece 20.000 francos a cualquiera que pueda resolver lo que realmente ha sucedido. En la barcaza de Gassin, el vellocino de oro, Maigret se encuentra con la hija de Gassin, Aline una mujer joven con discapacidad intelectual que tiene un bebé pequeño, aunque Ducrau no es el padre como inicialmente había llegado a creer Maigret. Más tarde, cuando ambos, Maigret y Ducrau, están en el Tabac Henri-IV, un bar en el centro del Pont Neuf, un lugar de encuentro para los cargueros, llegan noticias de que el hijo de Ducrau, un joven llamado Jean, se ha ahorcado dejando una nota escrita en la que confiesa que fue él quien mató a su padre. Al día siguiente, otro cuerpo aparece ahorcado en una esclusa y, mientras tanto, Ducrau le ofrece un trabajo bien pagado a Maigret tras descubrir que Maigret ha pedido a la jubilación anticipada y pronto abandonará la policía judicial. Sin embargo Maigret rechaza la generosa oferta. Por último, Ducrau invita a Maigret a pasar el fin de semana en su casa de campo en Samois-sur-Seine (Sena y Marne) cerca del bosque de Fontainebleau, donde Maigret descubre la verdad.

La esclusa número uno, es la decimoctava entrega de la famosa serie de Georges Simenon protagonizada por el comisario Maigret. Fue publicado originalmente en francés como L’ecluse no. 1 y publicado por entregas en Paris-Soir del 23 de mayo al 16 de junio de 1933 y en forma de libro por Fayard en el 1933. En realidad, esta fue su penúltima novela de Maigret publicada por Fayard. De hecho, a lo largo de la narración nos hemos enterado de que Maigret había decidido pedir un retiro anticipado. Como de costumbre, Simenon ha sido capaz de crear la atmósfera y la tensión necesaria en la que se desarrolla la acción, como ningún otro escritor ha hecho antes. Y, si bien es cierto que sus tramas son extremadamente simples, no es menos cierto que cualquier deficiencia en este sentido está totalmente recompensada por la calidad de su prosa. Además, como observador del comportamiento humano, Simenon no tiene parangón. No puedo pasar por alto, que sus historias son a menudo bastante sombrías y tristes, y los ambientes en los que se desarrolla la acción son deprimentes. Tal vez sus libros no son adecuados para todos los gustos y estados de ánimo, pero he comenzado a apreciar cada día más esta extraordinaria serie. Me siento particularmente atraído por la forma en que Maigret resuelve sus casos, muy a menudo con sólo hablar con las personas involucradas. En cierto sentido, me recuerda a la forma como el comisario Adamsberg lleva a cabo sus investigaciones. Si no lo hubiera mencionado antes, he disfrutado este libro y sólo puedo recomendarlo.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Georges Simenon nació el 12 de febrero de 1903 en Lieja, Bélgica, y murió el 4 de septiembre de 1989 en Lausana, Suiza, donde había vivido durante la última parte de su vida. Entre 1931 y 1972 publicó setenta y cinco novelas y veintiocho cuentos protagonizadas por el inspector Maigret. Simenon siempre se resistió a identificarse con su famoso personaje literario, pero reconoció que compartían una característica importante:

Mi lema, en la medida en que tengo uno, se ha destacado con bastante frecuencia, y siempre me he ajustado a él. Es el que le he dado al viejo Maigret, que se parece a mi en alguos aspectos … ‘comprender y no juzgar’.

Otras novelas de Maigret reseñadas en A Crime is Afoot:

El perro canelo (1931) Inspector Maigret # 5 de Georges Simenon
El loco de Bergerac (1932) Inspector Maigret # 15 de Georges Simenon
Maigrte y el Liberty Bar (1932) Inspector Maigret # 17 por Georges Simenon
Maigret (1934) Inspector Maigret # 19 por Georges Simenon