Such a Pretty Little Beach (Une Si Jolie Petite Plage)

The French film noir combined elements from the American crime melodrama with a fatalistic attitude distinctly French, but perfectly suited to the pessimistic character of the expressive dark genre which produced the best American films of the immediate post-war period. Yves Allegret's films of the late forties are among the best film noir made anywhere: highly atmospheric, they recall the mood of “poetic fatalism” which permeated the great films of Prevert-Carné in the late 1930s, but in narrating their stories of crime and retribution the Allegret noir avoids all arty flourishes and eccentricities in building tension and in pitilessly revealing the dark side of human behavior. Allegret's best-known film noir are the two which starred his then-wife Simone Signoret - Dedee D'Anvers (1947) and Maneges (1949) - but many critics consider this rarely shown work, starring Gerard Philipe, to be his most accomplished. Released in this country in 1951 as Riptide, Such a Pretty Little Beach was considered too grim and despairing by most critics: Bosley Crowther wrote in the New York Times: “In this quiet psychological study of a doomed, bewildered 20-year-old, Gerard Philipe gives a remarkably lucid performance of emotional tension and confusion. Riptide is a gloomy drama and... Allegret does not permit any ray of light to brighten the proceedings.”
In his “Dictionary of Films,” Georges Sadoul notes: “Yves Allegret's best film noir with an excellent script that not only allows one to understand, without monologues, flashbacks or asides, that the former ward of Public Assistance has killed his lover, an aging, famous actress, but also captures the fatalistic melancholy that drives the hero back to seek his childhood on a ‘pretty little beach' out of season, bare and blurred by rain and mist. Gerard Philipe was attracted to the role written by his friend Jacques Sigurd and made it one of his best.”

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