Edward and Caroline is the earliest Jacques Becker film of the four released this week, the other three are his better-known later films. It’s also actually the first time this film has ever been released on home video in the UK as well.
Becker was known for attention to detail, and this film is no exception (even if it’s undoubtedly light on plot.) As the title suggests, it’s about a couple called Edward (Daniel Gélin) and Caroline (Anne Vernon). Their marriage is failing, and it all comes to a head when they are supposed to go to an upper-crust party together where Edward, being a pianist, is expected to play. The party is being held by Caroline’s snobbish and obnoxious uncle Claude (Jean Galland). Edward is also missing a waistcoat and must borrow one off of Caroline’s cousin. They two are fighting before they even get there so tensions are high, and it’s fair to guess that things may not go as smoothly as initially planned.
The film has the feel of some of the screwball comedies of the ’30s and ’40s, but it’s never quite as “zany” as those, nor does it move like a speeding train, like His Girl Friday. It gets closer to those films in the final act, but unfortunately it also ends with a totally misguided rape joke. It’s not as bad as the ten minute one in The Knack, which was perhaps the worst ever Palme d’Or winner, but some modern viewers will be aghast. The two leads, however, do have some chemistry, and it is beautifully filmed, as you would expect from Jacques Becker.
The disc includes an intro by Ginette Vincendau, who has also provided a new intro for each of the other Becker films released in this series. Vincendau teaches film studies at King’s College London and is one of the foremost experts on French cinema in the UK. There is also a vintage interview with Becker himself!