Two by Louis Valray

Mar 4–18, 2021

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La belle de nuit. 1934. France. Directed by Louis Valray. Courtesy Lobster Films

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Not much is known about the director Louis Valray, except that he was born in Toulon in 1896 and made two exceptional feature films in the mid-1930s, both of which are screening in this program in new restorations from Lobster Films. Based on a play by Pierre Wolff, about a wronged husband’s revenge on his wife and her lover, La belle de nuit is a major find, a work of uninhibited stylistic imagination that ranges from Sirkian stylization (an elaborate play of mirrors and doubles) to brutal realism (a tour of the bordellos of Marseille suggests the contemporary photographs of Brassaï).

In Thirteen Days of Love, an officer of a passenger ship falls in love with the mistress of a Marseille racketeer, with unexpected results. Louis Valray’s second and final feature film, written with his wife, Anne Valray, is as free-spirited as his first, owing little or nothing to any established school of French cinema, mixing the lyrical (as the lovers enjoy a few days of languid romance on a tiny island) and stark realism (unblinking observations of the Marseille underworld and its seemingly authentic denizens).

Organized by Dave Kehr, Curator, Department of Film.

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Additional support is provided by the Annual Film Fund. Leadership support for the Annual Film Fund is provided by Debra and Leon D. Black and by Steven Tisch, with major contributions from The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, MoMA’s Wallis Annenberg Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art through the Annenberg Foundation, the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP), The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art, the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, Karen and Gary Winnick, and The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston.

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