After deserting from the French army overseas, Jean arrives in Le Havre hoping to board a ship overseas. In a dockside bar, he meets Nelly, a young woman who is hiding from her shady godfather, with whom she lives. When a local hoodlum begins to pester Nelly, Jean beats him up, making an enemy of him. Jean and Nelly spend the night together and he then prepares to board a ship sailing for Venezuela. But he wants to make one last visit to his young lover at home, a fatal encounter ensues … Le quai des brumes was a notable masterpiece of poetic realism. Director Marcel Carné was known for ‘painting with shadows,’ and was once called a ‘poet of darkness; a cineaste of shadow, from whom light can wrest but little’ (German film critic Norbert Grob, 1996). Émigré cinematographer Eugen Schüfftan used Alexandre Trauner’s sets and locations to create compositions in image and light that swing between natural twilight and artificially conjured grey daylight – giving perfect expression to the fatalistic mood that prevailed in the film (and in French society just a year before the start of World War II).
by Marcel Carné
with Jean Gabin, Michèle Morgan, Michel Simon