Armand Panigel's HISTORY OF THE FRENCH CINEMA BY THOSE WHO MADE IT is one of the most extensive studies of it's subject. That's good news and bad news. It can be fascinating, as when he details which of the scenes in L'INHUMAINE were designed by each of it's celebrity decorators and frustrating when we realise that the presentation is tilted in favor of the participants who were still available to face Panigel's camera.
Cobbled together from the introductions Panigel presented when vintage French films were shown on their TV and spaced with clips varying in quality and pictures from old French movie magazines, this one is likely to leave anyone not from it's intended French speaking, movie going public with information overload. Suddenly Rosine Derane's name comes up in the middle of a bracket of famous actresses - and about time too incidentally.
Panigel loved the movies and he was delighted that he was one of the few people who got to demonstrate that at length and on film. What he did is fascinating but, like Kevin Brownlow's "The Parade's Gone By," stresses the figures the writer actually met. Admirers of Gina Manés, Maurice Tourneur or Paul Grimault are advised to look elsewhere.
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