Madame Beudet (Germaine Dermoz) lives an unhappy live being mocked and tormented by her husband (Alexandre Arquillière). He works all day as a cloth merchant and ignores his wife when he comes home. He arranges tickets for them for the theatre to a performance of Faust but, when she declines to go, he pretends he will kill himself with a gun he keeps in a top drawer. Evidently he keeps the gun unloaded and uses this trick often to mock his wife. However, when he goes to the show with his associate and his wife (Jean D’Yd & Madeleine Guitty), Mrs. Beudet loads the gun in the hope that the next time he pulls the stunt he’ll follow through and kill himself.
This was suggested by Steve from 1001Plus as being a not very good film on the 1001 Movies list. However, at just 38 minutes long and being readily available on YouTube this 1922 French silent short was perfect for a lunchtime viewing sat at my desk at work. What is wasn’t perfect for was anything else.
It’s not a bad film, it’s just not worth watching. There’s nothing here to grab the attention. Nothing fun, nothing exciting, nothing all that dramatic, just some of the worst examples of the silent era’s overacting and gurning for the camera that I’ve ever seen. Despite being so short it still seemed to drag, and the overall premise didn’t work either. I could never quite understand how Mr. Beudet’s suicide prank was supposed to work, given how Mrs. Beudet knew the gun wasn’t loaded, and it’s remarked that he does it all the time. The whole thing felt like an under-thought-out set-up for a pay-off that was far less revelatory than it needed to be.
Effects-wise there are some nice uses of super-imposing another character over the top of a scene, when Mrs. Beudet fantasises about a tennis player from a magazine (Raoul Paoli) giving her husband a seeing to, which is impressive for the early 1920s, but other than the technical wizardry and some uncharacteristic-for-the-time feminist undertones there’s nothing else here to see.
Choose Life 4/10