The Baker’s Wife

France
1938
133 minutes
Directed by:
Marcel Pagnol
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With an introduction and post-film discussion by Lionel Cuillé, the Jane and Bruce Robert professor of French and Francophone studies at Webster University.

The warmth and wit of celebrated playwright-turned-auteur Marcel Pagnol (“The Marseille Trilogy” of “Marius,” “Fanny,” and “César”) shines through in this enchanting slice-of-life comedy. Returning once again to the Provençal countryside he knew intimately, Pagnol draws a vivid portrait of a close-knit village where the marital woes of a sweetly deluded baker (the inimitable Raimu) snowball into a scandal that engulfs the entire town. Marrying the director’s abiding concern for the experiences of ordinary people with an understated but superbly judged visual style, “The Baker’s Wife” is at once wonderfully droll and piercingly perceptive in its nuanced treatment of the complexities of human relationships.

Orson Welles heralded Raimu as “the greatest actor who ever lived,” and his lavish admiration also extended to “The Baker’s Wife,” which he described as “a perfect film.” Time Out London calls the film “flagrantly unfashionable, but bursting with bucolic vigour and sly satirical wit” and describes Raimu as “a French clown sans pareil.” Admirers of J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” also should take note: Holden Caulfield, though generally disdainful of movies, took sistThe warmth and wit of celebrated playwright-turned-auteur Marcel Pagnol (“The Marseille Trilogy” of “Marius,” “Fanny,” and “César”) shines through in this enchanting slice-of-life comedy. Returning once again to the Provençal countryside he knew intimately, Pagnol draws a vivid portrait of a close-knit village where the marital woes of a sweetly deluded baker (the inimitable Raimu) snowball into a scandal that engulfs the entire town. Marrying the director’s abiding concern for the experiences of ordinary people with an understated but superbly judged visual style, “The Baker’s Wife” is at once wonderfully droll and piercingly perceptive in its nuanced treatment of the complexities of human relationships.r Phoebe, a discerning film fan, to see “The Baker’s Wife” and she found it “hysterical.”

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