Once again, producer-writer Marcel Pagnol plays variations on his favorite theme of the young maid’s fall from virtue into pregnancy. The story of Fanny [middle seg of the trilogy comprising Marius and Cesar], however, is secondary to the gallery of superlative portraits drawn by the cast members.
The story revolves around Fanny’s (Orane Demazis) plight after she’s deserted by her lover Marius (Pierre Fresnay) who leaves to become a sailor. Under pressure from her outraged mother (Alida Rouffe), Fanny is forced into marrying Panisse (Charpin), who’s old enough to be her father.
As Marius’ father, Cesar, Raimu delivers one of the best performances of his career. As a barkeep who’s brokenhearted over his son’s departure, Raimu displays his rich comic vein with a delicacy that never shatters the poignant qualities underlying his role. Charpin also plays superbly.
As Fanny, Demazis is slightly short on looks but more than compensates by her sensitivity and fragility. Fresnay, as the impulsive swain, is disappointing in a small part which he plays too theatrically.
Chief defects lie in the lensing, which is uneven, and the editing, which causes several choppy transitions.