Un Singe En Hiver (A Monkey In Winter)


In the early sixties Michel Magne has already made a name for himself though pigeonholed as "rive gauche" owing to his experimental compositions ("Musiques Tachistes"), his collaborations with Françoise Sagan and his musical adaptations of Jacques Prévert, Charles Péguy and Bernard Dimey for the magnificently Christ-like La Mort D'un Homme (Chemin De Croix) (Barclay, 1961). Things suddenly change when composing the music for Gigot by Gene Kelly and with Jackie Gleason the king of "mood music" rediscovered today by people like Joseph Lanza and Boyd Rice. When nominated at the Oscars, as the doors of Hollywood open wide Michel Magne chooses to remain in Paris feeling no enthusiasm at the idea of becoming a Californian. From then on, wreathed in success as he is, a more popular cinema is making eyes at him. Starting with Henri Verneuil with A Monkey in Winter starring nothing less than the greatest name of the time in France, Jean Gabin and a "rising newcomer", Jean-Paul Belmondo. With dialogues by Michel Audiard from the book by Antoine Blondin. A "French quality" that would not be to the taste of the nouvelle vague aficionados. Rather, this "daddy's cinema" is nothing less than the reflection of a certain Gaulish spirit of rebellion, all the same fiercely individualistic and that, disabused of all ideologies, doesn't want to die for ideas as the song by Georges Brassens goes. The music of Michel Magne outlines the nostalgic wanders of Albert Quentin (Jean Gabin) who after an adventurous youth on the Yang-Tse-Kiang now lives a quiet life with Suzanne (Suzanne Flon) whom he met at the Bourboule and manages the Stella hotel at Tigreville (actually Villerville in the Normand Calvados) and takes care of Gabriel Fouquet (Jean-Paul Belmondo), a young adman whose heart was broken in Madrid. The genius of Magne is found in his evocations of Spain and China not as they were at the time but as the two main characters picture them with the help of not just a few drinks. Two dreamers treating themselves to a blessed interlude where "o tempora, o mores" they do not have to cope with anti- speciesism (apology of bullfighting, cultural appropriation concepts (stereotyped Spain and China) nor the Évin law (elevation of inebriation to a fine art status). Here is a jolly good record you will want to go back to every time the right-minded ones try to mess with your basic rights. Henri Verneuil's cult original soundtrack from the 1962 movie.