French Way, The (Blu-ray Review)
DirectorJacques de Baroncelli
Release Date(s)1945 (July 10, 2018)
Studio(s)Flag Films (Sprocket Vault/MVD Visual)
- Film/Program Grade: C+
- Video Grade: C
- Audio Grade: C
- Extras Grade: F
The French Way (known in France as Fausse alerte) is a French comedy romance focusing on two young adults, Claire Ancelot (Micheline Presle) and Bernard Dalban (Georges Marchal), who want to get married but are refused consent by their parents. Unfortunately for them, Bernard’s father, Monsieur Dalban (Saturnin Fabre), and Claire’s mother, Madame Ancelot (Gabrielle Dorziat), are in the midst of a bitter feud. Madame Ancelot claims that her great-great granddaughter had an affair with Napoleon, therefore claiming to be his descendant, but Monsieur Dalban, a biographer of the tyrant, says otherwise. A cabaret star, Zazu Clarion (Josephine Baker), is introduced to the two young lovers and takes a liking to them. Using her charming personality, she aims to bring peace to the two families and ultimately allow the two to wed.
The French Way, which was made in 1940 but wasn’t released until 1945 due to the outbreak of World War II, is a mild, harmless 70-minute film, despite its premise now being out of date. It reminds one of the story of Romeo and Juliette, but with several musical numbers included. Josephine Baker is excellent, and with her million dollar smile, her character ultimately has a feel-good effect. Her song and dance routines are the main draw and they will either entertain you or cause you to tune out, depending on your enjoyment of this kind of film.
Courtesy of Sprocket Vault and MVD Visual, The French Way has been given a Blu-ray release in an aspect ratio of 1.31:1 with consistent quality. While the images do occasionally have a more polished look with decent grayscale, they suffer from several problems including unbalanced contrast, print damage, and vertical lines. In some scenes, character’s faces have a milky white appearance. This likely means that whatever element was left to release this film in high definition with was probably all that was available. The French 2.0 mono LPCM track is quite serviceable, with pleasant dialogue and song selection, despite a few dropouts here and there. English subtitles are included as well, but unfortunately, no extras.
The French Way will delight fans of classic French cinema and Josephine Baker. While still far from perfect, it is, for the time being anyway, the best way to view the film in high definition.
- David Steigman