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Grand Illusion (movie)

75 years on, sophistication of 'Jour Se Leve' still surprises

Of all the memorable films starring French icon Jean Gabin, including "Grand Illusion," "Pepe le Moko" and "La Bete Humaine," none has been harder to see in its original version, or more richly rewards a viewing today, than Marcel Carne's melancholy masterpiece of poetic realism, 1939's "Le Jour Se Leve."

"I saw it 17 times in one month," reported Claude Sautet, no mean director himself. "And four times in one day, each time leaving the cinema dazzled and engulfed by an inexplicable sense of pain and pleasure."

An unapologetically adult classic of romantic fatalism with a level of sophisticated insight into...