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Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Specific languages, Studies on Film

Publication Details

French Studies (Oxford)



Melodrama ‘à la française’: Feyder and French cinema of the 1930s

By the end of 1934, Jacques Feyder had led a distinguished career in French silent cinema, had directed a critically acclaimed adaptation of Émile Zola’s Thérèse Raquin (1928) in Berlin, had returned from a three-year contract in Hollywood, had brought Le Grand Jeu to the screen (the greatest box-office success of the 1933–34 season), and appeared to be virtually unstoppable as he proceeded to direct his next film, Pension Mimosas. The film was described by one critic as ‘sans aucun doute l’une des œuvres les plus attendues de la saison prochaine’ and would rank as the season’s seventh-highest box-office success.1 Popular enthusiasm for Pension Mimosas, ostensibly a maternal melodrama, was doubtless sparked by its incendiary portrayal of female quasi-incestuous desire. The narrative centres on Louise (Françoise Rosay) and Gaston Noblet (Henri Alerme), co-owners of a boarding house...