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Souriante Madame Beudet, La (1922)


So HAPPY!
So HAPPY!

Genre: Silent Avant-Garde Drama (France)

Starring: Germaine Dermoz, Alexandre Arquillière

Directed By: Germaine Dulac (The Seashell and the Clergyman)

Overview: Considered the first feminist film, this is a 32-minute look into the life of a woman in a loveless marriage.

Performance:

What's with the wife not smiling! It's the husband who's smiling! They must have made a mistake in the title, or are you trying to be sarcastic?! Seriously, cast someone with facial muscles! The guy playing the husband must have pissed off that actress royal, all the time laughing and showing his teeth, rubbing it in her disabled face. Man, that's mean.
Rating: 7

Cinematography:

At least the first feminist film is better and shorter than the first African-American film, but to compare inferior things made by inferior people would be wrong. We must judge a film by its own merit. To say this is visually Avant-Garde is a stretch, unless you include double-exposures and iris-outs (you know, like in the endings of "Looney Toons", where focus is done by a pin-point of an image surrounded by vignetting, if you will). If you do include those things, they were indeed innovative at the time, but not truly vanguard. There are some interesting visual effects and professional framing, but a muddy print and scenes without action can kill something rather quickly.
Rating: 5

Script:

What I remember most of all is that when there were intertitles, the left side was chopped off because who needs a quality recording? You should be thankful for being able to find the movie at all!
Rating: 4

Plot:

Andy Horbal asked me recently to think about what a film does to make it work, and so, rather than going off on a pure rant, I'll delve into the more enjoyable and effective storytelling elements: a woman with interests that are not only unappreciated but mocked at by her uncouth husband (how dare she read literature and play base piano music like Debussy!) fantasizes for herself a better life, dreaming of happiness. The story not only revolves around the bored, annoyed and dismissed wife, but it is her emotions that we explore, her perspective we are made to learn rather than his. A study into what drives a woman to exteme ends, is truly what makes it a unique story, and given that it's the first of its kind well that's as Avant-Garde as you can get.
Rating: 7

Mood:

I don't know, I'd still rather vent... I sure like that the first feminist film is about a woman who wants to murder her husband. Talk about making mountains out of molehills, Jesus. Mme Beudet is clearly just in the middle of a PMS bitch session and should learn to get over it. Why this husband of her's even offered her tickets to Faust in the first place when she should have been cooking for his friends when they got back from the play, I'll never know. She doesn't even go. As if she has interests outside of his. Give a inch and they take a mile. She should be happy that she's even allowed out of the house!
Rating: 5

her smile is so infectious, she has to look away!
Her smile is so infectious, she has to look away!

Overall Rating: 56% (I'm Not Smiling Either!)
Aftertaste:

I've been waiting a long time to get this one off the bottom of my 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list, and let me iterate unto you the utter disappointment I experienced as I watched. Perhaps that's too strong. Let's say 'unimpressed boredom'. Maybe it was the timing. After watching so much Avant-Garde from much later in film history I may have felt as though thrust back into a lesser time. More likely though, effects like double exposure and vignetting lost their pizzazz when I waited, easily distracted, for something to happen besides man-laughter and hair brushing. Reminiscent of clunky old Silents that tell the tale in intertitles while showing very little action, this felt very scholarly. I don't remember studying being very fun.

| | | | | | | | |

This one was truly awful. Awful awful awful. Could have been even worse than 'Within Our Gates' if it had been any longer.


Hey kristal! Are you watching in order planning to see them all, or are you more interested in getting a hold of the good stuff, or the rare stuff? I had a hell of a time finding many of the early titles and I'd be glad to share the wisdom of the 'where to finds'


I am trying to watch them all and going pretty much in order for now. Some of them so far have been hard to track down like The Big Parade and The Crowd. I had to download avi files for those as well as this one. But luckily I am a member of a pretty awesome torrent site that has lots of the rare ones like Napoleon and Greed.

But any 'where to' info would always be appreciated.


If you like, you can email me directly and we can chat about it on a per film basis - especially since I'm not that attached to most films I own. What city do you live in? I've gone to great lengths to find some of these including eBay and a freind who lives in New York ordering tapes from a specialized shop. In fact this particular one, La Souriante Madame Beudet was only accessible through a friend's university library access, which included this as a short on a collection, so there was certainly some diging there.

If I may suggest first of all, go with your list of unfindable films to every indy film rental place in the city - I did that and was quite pleased. I'm also glad that this is the decade of accessibility and DVD/Blu-Ray is bringing everything back.

In the case of Ace in The Hole / The Big Carnival, I remember going to my favorite video store. The guy didn't have it, but wished it existed, having heard so many great things.  Months later then I got a VHS version off eBay and I lent it to the videostore's owner who loved it as much as I did. 3 weeks later it was on his shelf, recently released on DVD... My biggest issue ever was Docks of New York, and that's been solved!

Anyways, if you'd like to take this offline and show me your list of 'need to finds' contact me @ drbantz@hotmail.com


Wow, we must have seen a different film, I thought it was a very beautiful (although the wonderful, updated soundtrack certainly helped) story about loveless marriage. I've been going down the list as well, and at the very least you have to agree it's nice to have a short film every now and then...these D.W. Griffith films kill me sometimes!


hahaha you said it. I'm not in a hurry to review The Wheel, even though it's Abel Gance, who was a cinematography genius, it's 6 hours...


Hi

In IMDB it says that the movie is 54 min long. You say it is 32 min and the version I saw on YouTube were 26 min. Do you know how to get hold of the 54 min version?


I have no clue. Happy hunting.

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