gets a new look !
Marguerite de la Nuit is filmmaker Claude Autant-Lara's spin on the "Faust" legend. Though updated to 1925, the story of the ageing pedant who sells his soul to Satan in exchange for youth and knowledge is fairly faithful to the Goethe original. The one major alteration is Satan's decision to "go easy" on the long-suffering Marguerite (played by Michele Morgan). His Satanic Majesty is portrayed with a surfeit of wry Gallic charm by Yves Montand.
This is yet one more nugget from the gem-encrusted Archives of French Cinema with lots more waiting to be mined principally from the thirties and forties and pre-Nouvelle Vague fifties. At the time of its release in the mid fifties the negative reaction from both critics and viewers impaired the CV of Claude Autant-Lara (who, incidentally, was educated about two miles from my home in London) taking as it did its place beside such delights as Fric-Frac, Ciboulette, L'Affaire du courier de Lyon, La Marriage de Chiffon, Douce, Sylvie et la fantome, Le Diable au corps, L'Auberge rouge, Le Ble en herbe to name only a few. Essentially what we have here is Life in the Faust lane which sees Yves Montand's Mephistopholes tracking down in the present day an elderly descendant of Dr. Faust and offering him the legendary contract. Once the dotted line has been utilised to bear his signature he becomes Jean-Francois Calvé of which the less said the better - ironically within a couple of years in a musical version of the same story in Hollywood the same young Faust would be played by Tab Hunter: the only difference between these two walking timber yards is that one spoke French. Autant-Lara clearly spent some time on establish a 'feel'. The streets and houses in them are uniformly white with the houses indistinguishable by street numbers. Symbolically the older Faust, almost against his will, follows Mephisto through a door and DOWN a flight of stairs enclosed by Red walls or, how can I put this, into Hell? A Hell personified in this case by a night club filled with hedonists/sinners doomed to carouse through eternity. One of these is, as you've surely guessed, the eponymous Marguerite, in the shape of Michele Morgan who, in a deliciously ironic touch, is first seen singing a ballad as Montand, the only male singer in the world fit to be mentioned in the same breath as Sinatra, looks on. Of course one look at Morgan and old Faust is ready to put his name where it will do the most good - as would I and from then on it's pretty much the old story. The two Ms, Montand and Morgan, act everyone else off the screen and even hold their own against the surreal sets not least the bizarre train station from which there are only one-way tickets available.
Source : IMDb