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Casque d'Or (Jacques Becker, 1952)
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Dr Sarah Leahy
Cine-file French Film Guides
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Casque d’or is one of the classics of 1950s French cinema. Combining the costume drama with the gangster film, it offers what was for the time a remarkable portrayal of relations between the sexes, and in so doing provides one of the most memorable female roles in French cinema - Marie ‘Casque d’or’, the golden-haired prostitute played by Simone Signoret. Directed by the acclaimed filmmaker Jacques Becker in 1952 and set in Paris during the belle époque, the film tells the tragic story of Marie’s love for Manda and their attempt to escape from a world of crime. This guide will offer a detailed discussion of the film’s production, placing it within the context of 1950s French cinema and French social history. It will also provide a thorough analysis of the film itself. Of particular interest here will be Casque d’or’s sexual politics and the extraordinary screen presence of its two main stars, Signoret and Serge Reggiani. Finally, the guide will trace the film’s critical reception from initial French hostility to international acclaim and subsequent re-evaluation at home. Casque d’or will emerge from this as a pivotal work that looks back to earlier French films - especially the poetic realist school of the 1930s - but that also anticipates future developments both in cinema and in society.
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