Julien Duvivier

Ben McCann
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This book is the first ever English-language study of Julien Duvivier (1896-1967), once considered one of the world’s great film filmmakers. It provides new contextual and analytical readings of his films that identify his key themes and techniques, trace patterns of continuity and change, and explore critical assessments of his work over time. Throughout a five-decade career, Duvivier zigzagged between multiple genres – film noir, comedy, literary adaptation – and made over sixty films. His career intersects with important historical moments in French cinema, like the arrival of sound film, the development of the ‘poetic realism’, the exodus to America during the German Occupation, the working within the Hollywood studio system in the 1940s, and the return to France and to a much-changed film landscape in the 1950s.

Often dismissed as a marginal figure in French film history, this groundbreaking book illustrates Duvivier’s eclecticism, technical efficiency and visual fluency in films such as Panique (1946) and Voici le temps des assassins (1956) alongside more familiar works like La Belle Equipe (1936) and Pépé le Moko (1937). It will particularly appeal to scholars and students of French cinema looking for examples of a director who could comfortably straddle the realms of the popular and the auteur.

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‘McCann's study of Duvivier argues coherently for the director's status as an auteur, particularly with its emphasis on recurring themes and its descriptive, but informative, discussions of a range of key films. This book fits well within the French filmmakers series, but can also stand individually as a case study on a long neglected director.'
Gillian Kelly, University of Glasgow
Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol. 37, No. 3

‘McCann provides a wealth of information on the director's life, times and work as well as an accessible yet rigorous critical study of Duvivier's cinema which brings Duvivier into line with his other more revered contemporaries. ... If, as McCann argues, Duvivier's work is ripe for re-evaluation, then this book is surely the guide to such an endeavour. Indeed, it might serve well as a companion to the revisiting of Duvivier's cinema or, for those familiar only with his best-known films, an exhaustive introduction to those films which, for one reason or another, found their way into the ashcan of cinema history.'
Felicity Chaplin, Monash University,
senses of cinema, No. 87
June 2018

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