Catherine Deneuve

Mississippi Mermaid (1969)

Mississippi Mermaid Poster

After communicating with Julie Roussel (Catherine Deneuve) through a personal ad, tobacco plantation owner Louis Mahé (Jean-Paul Belmondo) decides to bring her to his home on the island of Réunion so they can be married.  When she arrives, Louis is surprised to find Julie looks nothing like the picture she sent.  She explains that she sent her sister’s picture to him so she would know if he really loved her.  Louis hasn’t been entirely honest, either. He only told Julie he worked at a cigarette factory, not that he owned a tobacco plantation.

Louis and Julie are married right away and Louis couldn’t be happier with his new wife.  He wastes no time giving her access to things like his bank account.  Things suddenly get more complicated when Louis gets a letter from Julie’s sister asking where Julie is.  She hasn’t heard from Julie in a long time, which is very unusual for Julie.  Louis calls Julie and tells her to write her sister immediately, but by the time Louis comes home that night, Julie is gone and so is most of his money.

Not long after Julie vanishes, Julie’s sister comes to Réunion looking for her.  After meeting Louis, they realize the woman Louis married wasn’t the woman he had been writing to and they talk to a private investigator about finding the impostor.  While the investigator gets to work, Louis heads to Nice for a trip, but winds up hospitalized for exhaustion.  While recovering, he sees a commercial for a nightclub on TV and spots Julie dancing in it.  He finds out where she lives and goes to her apartment, planning to kill her.  But when the time comes, Julie tells him she doesn’t care if she lives or dies.

Julie comes clean about who she is and where she came from.  Her real name is Marion Vergano and she had spent years going in and out of reform schools.  She had fallen in love with a gangster named Richard and while they were on the same boat as the real Julie, they threw her overboard when they learned she suspected she was about to marry a rich man.  Richard sent Marion ahead to pose as Julie so she could rob Louis.  Marion swears that she really loves Louis but was forced into taking the money and Louis forgives her.

Marion and Louis hit the road and spend their days basking in each other’s company.  They get a house together, but when the investigator Louis hired figures out what Marion had done to the real Julie, he comes to arrest her.  Desperate to protect Marion, Louis shoots the investigator and buries him in the cellar, forcing Marion and Louis to live on the run, straining their relationship.

Mississippi Mermaid definitely isn’t the finest movie I’ve seen by Catherine Deneuve, Jean-Paul Belmondo, or director Francois Truffaut, but it is still a pretty engrossing movie.  The story held my attention through most of the movie, although I was starting to get a little bit tired of it near the end.  I really liked the first part of the movie leading up to Julie/Marion leaving Louis and taking his money and I started off liking the stuff about Louis finding Marion and the two of them trying to carry on their relationship afterward, but that part of the movie just went on for a little too long.  Deneuve and Belmondo were both great in it, though, and the chemistry between them was enough to make me want to keep watching even if I did lose interest in the story.

The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967)

Delphine (Catherine Deneuve) and Solange Garnier (Francoise Dorleac) are twin sisters from Rochefort.  Each of them has a creative passion; Delphine wants to be a dancer and Solange wants to be a music composer, but both of them teach classes to pay their bills.  When they get fed up with teaching, they decide to head for Paris, where they are sure they will find happiness.  But Delphine and Solange aren’t the only ones in town longing for something.  Their mother Yvonne (Danielle Darrieux) runs a snack bar and spends her days yearning for her ex-fiance Simon Dame.  She loved him, but thought his last name was ridiculous, so she had left him ten years earlier.  While working at her snack bar, she meets Maxence, a young sailor on leave from the Navy desperately seeking the girl of his dreams.  Maxence knows exactly how his dream girl is supposed to look, he’s just trying to find her.  He paints a picture of this mystery girl and hangs it in a gallery owned by Guillaume, Delphine’s boyfriend.  When Delphine drops by the gallery, she sees the painting and realizes it looks exactly like her, and goes on a quest to find the person who painted the picture.  Yvonne knows Maxence, but she never saw the painting of his dream girl.

Meanwhile, Solange stops by a music store to pick up some new paper and meets Simon Dame.  He tells her how he came to town to look for a woman who left him ten years ago because of his name, but he never met Yvonne’s twins, so Solange doesn’t know that the woman he’s looking for is her mother.  As they get to talking, he agrees to write a letter to a composer friend of his in Paris, Andy Miller (Gene Kelly) so he’d be willing to meet with her.  But little does Solange know that Andy Miller is already in town and she even literally bumps into him in the street.  When they meet, she drops the music she’s been working on and she accidentally leaves part of it behind, which Andy picks up.  He’s fascinated by the song and wants to meet the girl who wrote it again.

But to complicate things more, a carnival is in town for the weekend and the girls meet Etienne and Bill, who work for the carnival.  When two dancers with the carnival run off to be with some sailors at the last minute, Etienne and Bill recruit Solange and Delphine to perform in the show in their place.  They agree and are a great success, but still want to leave for Paris.  Come Monday, they’re all set to go, but then all the missed connections finally start to come together.  Solange and Andy meet up again, Yvonne and Mr. Dame are finally reunited, and even though Delphine hitches a ride with the Etienne and Bill to Paris, little does she know that her mystery admirer Maxence also catches a ride out of town with the carnival.

The Young Girls of Rochefort was a rather interesting movie.  It was kind of like On The Town meets Gentlemen Prefer Blondes with just a hint of Casablanca thrown in.  Only instead of everybody coming to Rick’s, everybody, except for Simon Dame, comes to Yvonne’s snack bar.  I was mostly intrigued by this movie because it had both Gene Kelly and Catherine Deneuve in it.  I didn’t really know what to expect from it, but what I got was a bright, colorful, exuberant, musical.  It was a lot of fun, but could have stood to be a little bit shorter.  I have to say, I’m really glad that Jacques Demy didn’t go with his original choice of Audrey Hepburn and Brigitte Bardot as the two sisters.  I like Audrey and I like Brigitte, but that would have been the least believable casting of sisters of all time.  Catherine Deneuve and Francoise Dorleac, on the other hand, actually were sisters, so Demy made a far better choice.  But if you’re not into movies that are pretty cheesy and full of random people dancing in the streets, I’d recommend skipping this one because I can easily see how this would grate on your nerves.

My Top 100, 30-21

Wow, I can’t believe we’re already up to number 30! This week is another week where if you don’t know anything at all about my style and only saw these ten movies, you’d get a pretty good idea of what my taste is.  So, let’s get on with the list!