November 4, 1994 |
Claude Chabrol's ingenious and unsparing The Eye of Vichy (L'Oeil de Vichy) takes a look at a still-volatile issue - French collaboration with the Nazis - from an oblique angle. It yields a highly effective essay on the dangers of seeing only what you wish to see. The subject has been memorably aired in films as diverse as The Sorrow and the Pity and Lacombe, Lucien, but Chabrol takes the position that fascism is best denounced with the words and images of the fascists themselves.
February 21, 2003
RE Shawn-Pierre Dessaigne's trashing of Michael Smerconish: Mr. Pierre-Dessaigne's name tells us a lot. Why respond by questioning Smerconish's intelligence? OK, let me challenge his: Remember that the French were still chopping people's heads off and incarcerating others on Devil's Island well into the 20th century. France's problem is that after WWII, the U.S. became the cultural, economic and arts capital of the world. The French could go Vichy again at a moment's notice. Max Cooper, Trappe
March 18, 1994 |
There is only one defendant sitting behind the bulletproof glass as France prosecutes former Militia chief Paul Touvier for "crimes against humanity" during the Nazi occupation of World War II. But the trial is also expected to cast a harsh new light on the right-wing fundamentalists of the French Catholic Church who obstructed justice by hiding Touvier during his four decades on the run. Touvier, now 78, was the intelligence chief of...
February 5, 1990 |
If you experienced World War II, or studied it in school, you know of the stigma attached to the Vichy government of Nazi-occupied France. After a lot of martial bluster about the readiness of their army and the impregnability of their Maginot Line, the French folded before Hitler's armored divisions in just 46 days, and the Third Republic was replaced by a puppet regime in Vichy under the passive leadership of 84-year-old Marshal Petain and...
July 17, 2005 |
First, Laura "Lola" Cerini rubs salt in the wounds. Or she would, if there were any. "You haven't cut yourself shaving?" she asks, applying tangerine celtic sea salt. Fortunately, for once, the answer is no. Not a solitary Scooby Doo bandage adorns my legs. The salt is for shedding dead skin, something humans have carried around forever but which has become a removal mission in contemporary spa services. Cerini works at the enormous, multi-eponymous Louis Christian Wayne Robert Salon and Spa in Cherry Hill, which also offers a vanilla orange brown sugar scrub (which may be two flavors too many)
February 11, 1987 |
Historically, the most shameful feature of France's submission to Germany in World War II was not that it occurred so swiftly, but that it was sustained at length with such remarkable efficiency. Remember, while the initial conquest took less than 50 days, the German occupation of France was to last 50 months. From a purely military standpoint, the task of occupying so populous a country of 210,000 square miles for more than four years, while also fighting on two major fronts, should have taxed the Nazis' resources beyond limit.
February 20, 2004 |
For an all-purpose definition of acting, throw out your dictionary and go see Michael Caine in The Statement. About to turn 71 in a few weeks, Caine is among the pantheon of distinguished senior film actors. Any questions? His performance answers them. Partly because of Caine and partly because of meticulous work by veteran director Norman Jewison, The Statement is a fiction done so effectively, it rings true - even slick lines that may otherwise be rancid. The premise of the film stems from France's collaboration with the Nazis in World War II. Much of The Statement, written by the late novelist Brian Moore and adapted for the screen by Ronald Harwood, is loosely based on the story of Frenchman Paul Touvier, who died in prison for ordering the deaths of seven Jews.
November 15, 1989 |
"Do you think babies in their mothers' bellies have souls?" wonders Marie, a French housewife living under German occupation during World War II. Her question, as timely today as in 1941, is not idly asked. You see, Marie is what the French call "a maker of angels. " Americans, less prone to euphemism, would call her an abortionist. Story of Women, Claude Chabrol's fact-based chronicle of a provincial abortionist who thrived during the Vichy years, is a chilling and fascinatingly unresolved work.
November 12, 1993 |
When a certain plump, Buddhalike filmmaker with multiple chins left England for the United States in 1940 to direct a movie called Rebecca, one of his former producers criticized this Briton - without naming him - for abandoning his homeland during wartime. According to the producer, Michael Balcon (who had financed The Man Who Knew Too Much and The 39 Steps), this unspecified director - who, of course, was Alfred Hitchcock - left his British associates high and dry while they struggled, shorthanded, making films for the war effort.
December 23, 2012 |
The Blood of Free Men The Liberation of Paris, 1944 By Michael Neiberg Basic Books. 352 pp. $28.99 Legendary World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle felt he had seen it all, and "I had thought that for me there could never again be any elation in war. But I had reckoned without the liberation of Paris. " Quoted toward the end of Neiberg's riveting account of a generally neglected subplot of the war, Pyle observed how the citizens of the city, with minimal help from Allied forces, threw off the yoke of Nazi occupation with what Albert Camus described as "the blood of free men. " The short version goes something like this: German forces occupied Paris on June 14, 1940, and eight days later, an armistice was signed between Germany and France setting up the collaborationist Vichy government headed by World War I hero Marshal Philippe Petain.