Jean Gabin's head is now snow white. The jaunty, bowlegged walk is a little rusty, but the lined half-smiling face is still assured and debonair. The romantic star of People Moco over a decade ago still has the old technique. And he demonstrates it in the best Gabin manner as he adroitly maneuvers young leading lady Blanchette Brunoy into his parlour and onto his couch. However, Miss Brunoy's acting ability does not rate her a place on the same couch with Gabin. She is attractive in face and figure, but her facial expression is limited to three looks--sex, innocence, and disdain. Unfortunately, they are not enough.
The task of lifting Marie du Port out of the muck of mediocrity therefore falls to Gabin. He succeeds. The story--a middle-aged man's vain attempts to stay away from an appealing eighteen-year-old--is not particularly sparkling, nor are the camera shots of a small French fishing village particularly interesting. But the terse, emotional dialogue is admirably suited to Gabin's soft, husky voice. Regrettably, the English subtitles often mangle his throaty speeches. In one scene he clutches Miss Brunoy's shoulders and painfully breathes out the confession of his infatuation. The English subtitle coldly states: "You excited me."
Because of Gabin's magnetism and the smooth dialogue, Marie du Port is a mature and an enjoyable production. The absence of coincidence and contrived incidents makes the so-so screenplay believable and seldom really trying. But the movie is never more than an excellent vehicle for Gabin.
Inserted between Marie du Port and a newsreel is an extremely amusing French burlesque on American "coming attraction" trailers. Entitled The Loves of Franciscan it employs old silent films, trick photography, and punned names for credits. One woman told the the Beacon Hill's manager that she liked the short so much that she didn't want to miss the motion picture, when it arrived.