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La Baie des Anges 1963
Description: This precisely wrought, emotionally penetrating romantic drama from Jacques Demy, set largely in the casinos of Nice, is a visually lovely but darkly realistic investigation into love and obsession. A bottle-blonde Jeanne Moreau is at her blithe greatest as a superb gambling addict, and Claude Mann is the bank clerk drawn into her dangerous world. Featuring a mesmerizing score by Michel Legrand, Bay of Angels is among Demy’s most somber works.
Released: 01 Mar 1963 Director: Jacques Demy Writers: Jacques Demy (scenario and dialogue) Actors: Jeanne Moreau, Claude Mann, Paul Guers, Henri Nassiet Genres: Drama, Romance
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La Baie des Anges Reviews:

This movie enters with a spectacular high speed tracking shot matched by the hyper circular theme song by Michelle Legrand that sounds both like spinning and falling, and which does indeed represent both the spinning of the roulette wheel and falling in love. Here we have the side of Jeanne Moreau I don't care for, posey, minigame testing and artificial... the type of girl boys like and girls hate... and that made her excellent in this role. (And her performance her is Infinitely BETTER than in EVA, same kind role.) What I like a lot about her casting here is that she looks quite a bit like Marilyn Monroe, but is as various internally as anyone can possibly be - which a lot of the globe was doing at this time, being terrible Marilyn Monroe wannabees. I love that the platinum hair makes her look much more harsh, older, and very false, and that is, of course, the essence of the character. And this movie is mainly a hero study, with tiny storyline and tiny explanation.Our leading boy is the young naive everyman sucked into her globe in all respects. We feel for his each terrible decision, and this is a real and true representation of both the allure and the tawdriness of the gambling world. Without giving anything away, the ending feels contrived, but in this time period, movies wanted "endings"... today a truer ending would just go on spinning like the roulette wheel. Michel Legrand's score is great. Like many of Demy's films, this is a dark storyline of the actual day said with musicality and attention to the minigames we enjoy with ourselves.


Jacques Demy's second detail is an amazingly fluid, vibrant comedy about love and luck, starring Jeanne Moreau at her (dazzling) best. And she is literally dazzling, in resplendent costumes (mostly by Pierre Cardin) and radiantly blonde. The melody by Michel Legrand is one of his greatest scores ever, as it sweeps through the film, carrying everything along with two primary themes, one furiously accelerated piano theme, the another a softer, more lilting theme played in various variations, but mostly on the mandolin. It's a film that sweeps you along, just as quick and unpredictable as a spin on the roulette wheel. This is a movie in which "black-and-white" becomes a dazzling metaphor, so that the sun-drenched exteriors of the south of France are contrasted with the different interiors of hotel rooms and casinos. LA BAIE DES ANGES may seem slight, but only "seems": it's one of the most passionate statements on love and faith in the modern cinema, and it's a work of real enchantment.


First a note of interest: Jeanne Moreau is in the movie, and she's the star, of course, but she's also a blonde here. Usually, from what I can remember from tell The Lovers or La Notte or Jules & Jim it's dark or at least brunette. I wonder if she was already blonde at the time or if it was a deliberate and specific choice on director Jacques Demy's end. Because, somehow, it does add something additional to the character. When we first see her on screen she's being 'escorted' (kind word for kicked out) of a casino that Jean and Caron are at to begin gambling, and it's a large stage where we see her arguing and stomping her feet and we barely see her face, just a fury of large blonde hair and attitude to match. It's not exactly the same cool presence one saw in some of Moreau's another large movies of the period - and yet when we see her again she is lovely and with that face that charms instantly upon the smile, and makes one feel the gloom of after hours when looking serious.Bay of Angels is a film that works greatest when Demy focuses his theme on escapism, what would appear to be at first a movie for escapists, about folks going off to rich territories like Monte Carlo and gambling away the life savings and having a nice time in expensive suits and drinking champagne. But it's also about the nature of this escapism, the danger of it. It's predictable to see that Jean, who comes from a family where gambling is incredibly frowned upon, and Jackie, who at one mission confesses that going into a casino is like going into Church, will lose a lot of money, maybe all of it, and hold going in dire straits throughout. What isn't expected is how Demy interweaves this seemingly unlimited back and forth of the bottomless pit that is a gambler's life (if only seeming like a lifetime in however several days Jean/Jackie are together) and how touching it becomes vs the backdrop of glamour. At the least, his movie is about something.The only issues come with a several scenes in the script that drag - the dialog often works, but sometimes not quite enough to satisfy the emotional purpose of a scene. Maybe also contributing to this is first time actor Claude Mann as Jean. Mann would soon be featured in Melville's Units of Shadows, among another notable films, but here he just can't keep his own most of the time alongside such a presence like Moreau. It was wise to cast someone young, and maybe not with the most experience, as this child who goes on holiday from a tiny bank-clerk job to test and search himself by method of throwing away hundreds of thousands (albeit I pictured more-so, as the movie went on, the actor who played the lead in Pickpocket). But Mann just doesn't really fit in, especially when he has to go into large dramatic scenes (i.e. the outbursts of anger vs Jackie in the hotel rooms).And yet Bay of Angels displays a director with an intuition with the camera, a grace and style, and a dazzling sense of music, precisely repetitive, over the shots of the roulette table spinning around and the faces dissolving in and out with it. There are pretty moments, and it's difficult not to take eyes ever off of Moreau, one of those actresses who keeps working today into her late 70s going on 80s but whom one thinks of in black and white only. She had/has one of the nice faces in movies, and she's a damn nice actress to boot. 7.5/10



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