Film Diary: Port of Shadows (Le Quai des Brumes), 1938, directed by Marcel Carné.
We loved Carné's Children of Paradise so we picked up Port of Shadows when we saw it at the library. Even though the movie starts off with lots of atmosphere and the fantastic actor Jean Gabin, its true greatness kind of creeps up on you. By the end, we felt like it was one of the best movies we'd ever seen! The shots, the music, the acting, the writing--it's all top form.
Michèle Morgan is striking (and when you first see her, she's wearing an eye-catching plastic raincoat--it turns out the costumes were designed by Coco Chanel, adding an additional layer of visual appeal) and Michel Simon is ingratiating and sinister all at once. It's a rather bleak film, but done in such a poetic style that you can revel in its beauty as it's breaking your heart. All the elements combine together to present a heightened reality that really works with the improbable story filled with universal themes.