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Julien Duvivier's feverishly fatalistic drama shifts from Paris to Barcelona to sun-scorched Morocco, as a man on the run (Jean Gabin) tries to escape his past by joining the Spanish Foreign Legion.
None other than Jean Renoir said of La Bandera's director: "If I were an architect and I had to build a monument to the cinema, I would place a statue of Duvivier above the entrance." Proof of this exalted opinion arrives in this beautiful restoration, thanks to the Centre National de la Cinématographie in Paris, of the film that made Jean Gabin a star, establishing his persona as a doomed anti-hero facing his existential destiny in a far-off land. On the run after having killed a man in Paris, Pierre Gilieth (Gabin) flees to Barcelona, joins the Spanish Foreign Legion, and falls in love with a Moroccan dancer (Annabella). But Pierre's friendship with two fellow Frenchmen soon turns into a grim contest of wills when one of them is revealed to be his adversary. Shot on location in sun-scorched landscapes and originally dedicated to Franco, La Bandera offers many amazing sequences — Pierre's memory of the murder in Paris; a famous chase scene through the streets in Barcelona, shot with a hidden camera; a seamy sequence in a bar replete with topless dancer and transvestites; and the final nightmarish battle, centred on a poisoned well — all captured with Duvivier's feverish sense of fatalism.
Thanks to SNC/Helen Shafer.