The Louis Jourdan Website - L'Arlésienne
Director: Marc Allégret
Writers: Marc Allégret (screenplay), Marcel Achard (dialogue)
filmed at Studios de la Victorine, Nice, 1941
Other cast members: Raimu, Edouard Delmont, Gaby Morlay, Giselle Pascal
Affording Louis Jourdan his first leading role, and a demanding and intense one at that, L'ARLÉSIENNE is the fourth incarnation of a classic tale by Alphonse Daudet which was turned into a play with incidental music by Georges Bizet in 1872, eventually to become a whole new opera by Cilea in 1897.
The story was first brought to the cinema in 1930, and the 1942 motion picture tied something of all productions together, greatly enhanced by a score using Bizet's 19th century music to match the time, and outdoor scenes shot on location in Camargue to capture an additional flavor of Provence.
L'Arlésienne (literally a woman from Arles) has come into common parlance to mean someone who is never there (even sometimes a figment of imagination), stemming from the original story of a woman who is never named and never seen, though she truly exists.
Louis Jourdan's character, Frédéri, is heartsick over this woman, his constant pain evident throughout. But all his loved ones are wisely of the opinion that she is completely wrong for him.
a caring embrace for his understanding mother
When it's revealed that L'Arlésienne had an affair with the stable boy, Frédéri is haunted and destroyed by the notion, while well-wishers attempt to link him with a local girl of pure heart who has always been in love with him.
His tragically unfulfilled longing now turned to despair, Frédéri doesn't want to go on living, the very thought of such a marriage being impossible to him. But with sincere encouragement from loved ones, eventually he relents, and decides to wed the proper girl. But the momentary resolve cannot be sustained, for L'Arlésienne immediately fills his heart again, and for the second film in a row, Louis Jourdan's character commits suicide by falling from a height.
With stunning performances from the supporting cast, it is a joy to know that the film is now available on DVD.