“Bay of Angels” is a fascinating film in Jacques Demy’s oeuvre because of its focus on gambling but also its wonderful performance by Jeanne Moreau. A somber film that would no doubt lead to Demy pursuing a more sadder film for his masterpiece a year later. A worthy inclusion in the Criterion Collection’s “The Essential Jacques Demy” Blu-ray and DVD box set.
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TITLE: Bay of Angels – The Criterion Collection #715 (as part of “The Essential Jacques Demy” Blu-ray + DVD Box Set)
YEAR OF FILM: 1963
DURATION: 84 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:35:1 aspect ratio, Black and White, Monaural French with English Subtitles
COMPANY: THE CRITERION COLLECTION
RELEASE DATE: July 22, 2014
Written and Directed by Jacques Demy
Produced by Paul-Edmond Decharme
Music by Michel Legrand
Cinematography by Jean Rabier
Edited by Anne-Marie Cotret
Production Design by Bernard Evein
Costume Design by Bernard Evein
Jeanne Moreau as Jacqueline “Jackie” Demaistre
Claude Mann as Jean Fournier
Paul Guers as Caron
Henri Nassiet as Mr. Fournier, Jean’s Father
Andre Certes as Le Direteur de la banque
Nicole Chollet as Marthe, Housekeeper
This precisely wrought, emotionally penetrating romantic drama from Jacques Demy, set largely in the casinos of Nice, is a visually lovely but darkly realistic investigation into love and obsession. A bottle-blonde Jeanne Moreau is at her blithe best as a gorgeous gambling addict, and Claude Mann is the bank clerk drawn into her risky world. Featuring a mesmerizing score by Michel Legrand, Bay of Angels is among Demy’s most somber works.
By 1963, actress Jean Moreau had become a popular star in France.
From her role in “Elevator to the Gallows” (1958), “La Notte” (1961) and “Jules et Jim” (1962), Moreau had become an actress in demand but also an actress who chose her films very carefully. Primarily, choosing films with directors that she wanted to work with.
And after watching Jacques Demy’s “Lola” in 1961, Moreau knew she wanted to work with the filmmaker for his second film, “La Baie des Anges (Bay of Angels)”.
And with the Criterion Collection paying tribute to the late Jacques Demy, “Bay of Angels” is one of the films to be included in “The Essential Jacques Demy” on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of the Criterion Collection.
The set will include “Lola” (1961), “Bay of Angels” (1963), “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” (1964), “The Young Girls of Rochefort” (1967), “Donkey Skin” (1970) and “Une Chambre En Ville” (1982).
“Bay of Angels” revolves around Jean Fournier (portrayed by Claude Mann), a young bank employee who is cajoled by his friend Caron (portrayed by Paul Guers) to gamble. Not a gambler, Jean gives gambling a try and wins a lot of money in the game of Roulette.
Seeing the potential of making more money, Jean decides to leave his family after an argument with his father about gambling and takes a vacation to the city of Nice.
And immediately after arriving, Jean meets bleached blonde bombshell, Jackie (portrayed by Jeanne Moreau). A divorced woman with a child (that she doesn’t have custody nor does she visit him all that much), the two begin to flirt with one another but while attracted sexually to Jean, she loves the thrill of gambling even more. No matter how much money she throws down or loses, the thrill of gambling and its unexpected nature is what turns her on.
And as the two begin to have a sexual relationship and gamble with each other in hopes of winning more money, Jean begins to realize that perhaps he can never win the love of Jean who is too fixated on gambling. But what happens when the clean cut Jean starts to enjoy the life and risk that Jackie is part of?
“Bay of Angels” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:67:1 aspect ratio), black and white.
The film continues filmmaker Agnes Varda’s determination of restoring her husband’s work and what we get is a film that looks fantastic in HD. Contrast levels are fantastic, detail and clarity are noticeable during closeups and there is a good amount of grain with no hints of damage to the film.
According to the Criterion Collection, “Approved by Mathieu Demy, this new digital transfer was created in 4K resolution on an ARRISCAN film scanner from the 35mm original camera negative at Digimage-Classics in Paris, where the film was then restored in 2K resolution. This 2012 restoration was undertaken by Cine-Tamaris and the Cinematheque francaise, with the support of the Franco-American Cultural Fund, the Monaco National Film Archives, and SODEGA Monaco, and with the participation of Kodak. ”
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
As for audio, “Bay of Angels” is presented in French Monaural LPCM 1.0 with English subtitles. Dialogue is clear and understandable. I didn’t notice any crackling or hiss during my viewing of the film. Michel Legrand’s score sounds crystal clear.
According to the Criterion Collection, “The original monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the optical sound negative and composer Michel Legrand’s original magnetic recordings.”
“Bay of Angels – The Criterion Collection #715” comes with the following special features:
- Cinepanorama– (13:46) A 1962 episode of the French TV show “Cinepanorama” and Jeanne Moreau being interviewed about “Bay of Angels”.
- Marie Colmant – (10:09) “Jacques Demy” co-author Marie Colman explores Demy’s affection for outcasts.
- Restoration Demonstration – (5:15) Agnes Varda and Rosalie Varda-Demy’s and restoration team’s determination to restore “Bay of Angels”.
- Trailer – (1:20) The theatrical trailer for “Bay of Angels”.
Can their be a love story amongst gambling addicts?
As hokey it may sound, fortunately Jacques Demy’s romantic drama “Bay of Angels” is a non-banal film about two gambling addicts, one who lives for the thrill of risking it all and another who falls for the addict and wants to save her, but can he?
While “Bay of Angels” is remembered as one of Demy’s more sombering works but for me, the film was literally held on the shoulders of actress Jean Moreau.
Hot after the release of “Jules and Jim”, Jeanne Moreau was the French starlet that many filmmakers had wanted for her to be in their film. But being the creative actress that she was, it was important for her to work with the people of her choosing. And for her, it’s the director that was more important than the actual story.
In 1963, Jeanne Moreau decided that the filmmaker she wanted to work for was Jacques Demy because of his work on “Lola”.
Foregoing her darker hair for a platinum blonde look, Moreau’s transformation to the sexy Jacqueline “Jackie” Demaistre in a role that is rather fascinating in a Marilyn Monroe-esque type of way but also found enjoyable because of Moreau’s transformation to this gambling addict.
It’s very rare to see Moreau play such a role, but to see her play a divorced mother who has chosen to leave her husband and child in order to gamble, let alone mess with a guy she just met. This was rather bold for 1963.
But Jacques Demy was able to craft a film that utilized the actress very well and while Claude Mann was a young actor that was right for the role, it was Moreau who embodied the role and made you want to see how far her character will push the character of Jean Fourier to go from his clean cut boyish style to becoming a man that is more demanding.
While the film is primarily shot around a casino and hotel, the interactive banter between the characters was rather interesting. Almost like a tug-of-war that seemed as if one side is tipped and until we get a conclusion that works. And a conclusion that was more pleasant, compared to Demy’s first film “Lola”.
The Blu-ray release of “Bay of Angels” once again shows a gorgeous restoration work with clarity, detail but also no damage. Lossless audio without any hiss or crackle and special features that include a very fascinating and blunt interview between Cinepanorama and Jeanne Moreau, plust a fascinating look at Jacques Demy’s affection for outcasts.
Overall, “Bay of Angels” is a fascinating film in Jacques Demy’s oeuvre because of its focus on gambling but also its wonderful performance by Jeanne Moreau. A somber film that would no doubt lead to Demy pursuing a more sadder film for his masterpiece a year later. A worthy inclusion in the Criterion Collection’s “The Essential Jacques Demy” Blu-ray and DVD box set.