A great follow-up to “Marius”—hilarious, dramatic and features superb performances.
Dir. Marc Allégret
1932 | France | Comedy/Drama | 127 mins | 1.19:1 | French
Not rated (likely to be PG)
Cast: Raimu, Pierre Fresnay, Orane Demazis, Fernand Charpin
Plot: After Fanny’s boyfriend leaves her and sails away, she finds out she’s pregnant.
Source: Marcel Pagnol Communication
Subject Matter: Moderate
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Audience Type: Slightly Mainstream
(Reviewed on Criterion Blu-ray)
The middle installment of the ‘Marseille’ trilogy, Fanny literally continues from Marius (1931) as if they had been one continuous film. Certainly not lacking in wit and drama, though Fanny goes into slightly more serious territory with the titular character, as splendidly played by Orane Demazis, grappling with pre-marital pregnancy, presumably carrying Marius’ child.
That is not to say that Fanny is less funny; in fact, Marcel Pagnol’s sharp script (based on his own play) delivers the required levity to make the film’s dramatic pretensions work. Like Marius, there’s a stage-like quality to the proceedings, and despite having a different director on board (Marc Allégret taking over Alexander Korda), Fanny is generally consistent with Marius. I think this is a testament to Pagnol’s enduring characterisations and brilliant gift for dialogue.
While Marius balances drama with the busy everyday port life, giving us a glimpse of the working-class of France in the 1930s, Fanny centers mostly on the ‘indoors’, where conflicts and dilemmas are played out with dramatic and comic intensity.
The theme of marriage is ever present, with the old but rich Honore Panisse (Fernand Charpin) wanting to marry Fanny, a seemingly win-win scenario for both—Panisse gets the wife and kid that he has always wanted, while Fanny avoids the shame of having a child without marrying. A potent cocktail of unexpected moments and one-upmanship, Fanny is as delightful as it is charming, proving that life and love are the best sources of great humanistic material.