There is so little one knows. Here one thought one had a "deep bench" when it comes to foreign films, and yet I knew nothing of Julien Duvivier!
Yes, there is his 'classic' Poil de Carotte, and Criterion put out Pepe le Moko a while back. And they are both outstanding.
But it took an almost accidental viewing recently of Duvivier's Flesh and Fantasy -- for he had a Hollywood phase -- followed by his all-star (sort of) epic Tales of Manhattan, to put it through my head that his was a distinctly Christian view of reality.
Then Lo and Behold! Turns out all of Duvivier's films from the 1920s have just been packaged to BluRay. So Mary and I sit down to watch them -- and, well, the tears roll, because three of them are Christ-centered epics of the highest quality, visually, theatrically, and emotionally.
Where have I been all these years? The answer is: nowhere near as close to full truth as you thought. How did these remarkable Gospel movies escape you, Paul? You know so much less than you thought you did.
Part of it is the critics. The critics one grew up with -- from the New Yorker to the Village Voice to the NY Times: well, they were almost all secular. Or, if they had Christian belief, they tried to hide it. Maybe they would tout a movie for being "humanist" -- which for JAZ and me is shorthand for "probably Christian" but SHHHH. The specifically Christian content needs to be hushed up, or just ignored. That is true again and again in the history of movie criticism.
Anyway, Duvivier shatters the narrative. And not just in the '20s, but in the '30s -- when he produced and directed Golgotha -- and the '40s -- when he made Tales of Manhattan -- and then again in the '50s, when he directed the 'Don Camillo' movies, which are milestones of Christian encomium, albeit painted with humor.
Now seriously, "Can't You Hear the Beating of my Heart?" LUV U.