The Story of a Cheat (“Le roman d’un tricheur”)
Directed by Sacha Guitry
Written by Sacha Guitry
#103 of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
I enjoyed the witty story without becoming immersed in it.
This film is an exercise more in style than in plot. The story goes something like this. The anonymous narrator sits in a Parisian café writing his memoirs. He was born a peasant in a village. As a boy he lived in an extended family of twelve people. Because he stole money from the till of their store, he was forbidden to eat from a dish of wild mushrooms at dinner. Thus, he becomes the only one of his family not to die from eating the deadly batch. An orphan, he is taken by his conniving aunt and uncle who cheat him of his inheritance. One day, his aunt intentionally leaves a few francs on the table. He resists the temptation to take them and the aunt surreptitiously leaves him an ad for employment as a doorman at a fancy hotel. He takes the cue to run away. So begins a series of jobs ending as a croupier in Monte Carlo and a number of amorous adventures as a sometime gambling cheat and thief.
This movie is a lot of fun. There is almost no dialogue other than the voice-over recounting the memoir. The setting is highly theatrical in that the audience is distanced from the action, which feels artificial. Everything is kept very light. The credits are presented in the most original way I have yet seen! This was the first film I have seen by Guitry. I look forward to seeing others. Recommended.
Trailer (no subtitles, unfortunately)