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Charles Spaak
Dramaturge and mauvais esprit
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Charles Spaak is one of the earliest major screenwriters in French sound cinema, alongside Marcel Pagnol, Jacques Prévert and Henri Jeanson, and the first to start out by writing for the movies. He collaborated as writer on around 100 feature films in a career that spanned more than forty years, and was one of the most sought-after screenwriters of the classical period, described – in opposition to Prévert, the poet – as the ‘dramaturge’ of French cinema. This chapter explores Spaak’s role in shaping the classic French cinema, influencing the stories that were told and their recurring preoccupations, including themes indelibly associated with the 1930s, such as social class, exile and nostalgia, fatalism and the construction of masculinity.

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