Based on Prévost’s 1731 novel Manon Lescaut, Manon was directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot, who is better known for the thrillers The Wages of Fear and Les Diaboliques.
He moves this tragic romance to the end of World War II, as young Manon (Cécile Aubry, The Black Rose) is accused of working with the Nazis. A former French freedom fighter named Robert Dégrieux (Michel Auclair, The Day of the Jackal) rescues her, but when they get to Paris, they must deal with all manner of sin to just survive. In fact, they’re pretty much doomed.
Manon is a striking indictment of post-World War II France. Where there was once the promise of heaven on Earth, now there’s only profiteering and prostitution. Before the end of the film, Robert leaves that Manon isn’t the angel that he wants her to be. And her amoral and duplicituous ways are about to lead him down the path that all good intentions lead to.
Aubry’s first major film role, she’d only make six more films before marrying a Marrakech prince named Si Brahim El Glaou and becoming a writer. Today, she may be best known for French TV series Belle et Sébastien, which also lent its name to the band. Her son Mehdi El Glaoui would play the lead male role on that show.
This is probably the only movie on this site that can claim that it won a Golden Lion in Venice. While this isn’t one of Clouzot’s best-known works, that hasn’t stopped Arrow Video from releasing a version that has all their trademark extras.
Beyond the high def 1080p blu ray presentation, there are also interviews with Clouzot discussing the relationship between literature and the screen, as well as a video appreciation of the film by critic Geoff Andrew.
You can order Manon from Arrow Films, who were nice enough to send us a review copy.