World Melodrama Film Series Presents: Gervaise (1956)

I was so proud to have the handsomest 
guy around . . . me, the gimp. 

Certainly the most stunning adaptation of L'Assommoir (1877), the seventh book in Émile Zola's twenty-volumes-long naturalist survey of the Second French Empire entitled Les Rougon-Macquart (1871-1893), René Clement's Gervaise presents us with the inexorably bad fortunes of one of the Macquarts, Gervaise (Maria Schnell).  A lame and hard-done-by woman, our titular heroine struggles to keep her family together after being abandoned by her handsome rake of a husband, Auguste Lantier (Armand Mestral).  With her subsequent marriage to the teetotaling roofer Henri Coupeau (François Périer) and the successful start to her own laundry business, things seem to be looking up for Gervaise until (among other things) Coupeau has a crippling accident and Lantier returns to make the happy couple a less-than-happy threesome.  Thereafter begins Gervaise's slow descent into alcoholism, leaving her neglected young daughter, Nana (the focus of the Zola novel and Jean Renoir film adaptation bearing her name), to start down her own wretched path.  This is the film that made Marsh's mom suicidally unhappy for two weeks upon seeing it, so prepare yourselves. 
Tuesday, May 10th
Stevenson 150, 8 PM

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