Bay of the Angels


1h 25m 1964
Bay of the Angels

Brief Synopsis

A bank clerk becomes involved in a rollercoaster love affair with a compulsive gambler.

Film Details

Also Known As
La baie des anges
Genre
Romance
Drama
Foreign
Release Date
Jan 1964
Premiere Information
New York opening: 24 Nov 1964
Production Company
Sud Pacifique Films
Distribution Company
Pathé Contemporary Films
Country
France
Location
Cote d'Azur, France; Paris, France

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 25m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.66 : 1, 2.35 : 1

Synopsis

Jean Fournier, a young, underpaid Parisian bank clerk, is tempted into trying his luck at the gambling tables at Enghien by a friend, Caron, who has won a considerable sum there. Jean wins, but when he tells his father that he plans to spend his vacation gambling at Nice rather than visiting relatives, his father disowns him. At Nice, Jean meets Jackie Demaistre, a compulsive gambler who has sacrificed her husband and child to her obsession. Together Jackie and Jean win a huge sum of money, but after a spending spree they return to the gaming tables and lose everything. Penniless, Jackie spends the night with Jean. The following day Jean reveals that he has extra funds, and with this money they win fabulously, buy a car, and drive to Monte Carlo. Jean tries to convince Jackie to give up gambling and return to Paris with him, but she tells him that she has only stayed with him because he brings her luck. They lose everything again and return to Nice where Jean's father, who has forgiven him, wires him money to return home. Jean tries to get Jackie to come with him, but instead she pawns her watch and goes to the casino. Sincerely in love with her, Jean follows Jackie to the casino where he again pleads with her. Again she refuses, but when she sees Jean leaving the casino she rushes after him.

Film Details

Also Known As
La baie des anges
Genre
Romance
Drama
Foreign
Release Date
Jan 1964
Premiere Information
New York opening: 24 Nov 1964
Production Company
Sud Pacifique Films
Distribution Company
Pathé Contemporary Films
Country
France
Location
Cote d'Azur, France; Paris, France

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 25m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.66 : 1, 2.35 : 1

Articles

Bay of Angels


The work of French director Jacques Demy invites viewers to connect the dots between each film, with characters, plot elements, and even musical themes drifting from one to the next in the most unexpected places. However, he hadn't quite refined that sensibility yet when he made his second film, Bay of Angels (1963), one of the earliest films to treat gambling as an addiction rather than an amusing pastime or an element of the criminal underworld.

Despite its subject matter involving a pair of lovers stuck in a cyclical and often destructive relationship with games of chance in Nice, this is ultimately the most optimistic of Demy's first three features, also including Lola (1961) and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), which all involve vulnerable women whose lives and romances are dramatically jeopardized. Exactly how much stock one puts in this film's glorious final shot depends on the level of optimism a viewer brings to the table, but it's a testament to Jeanne Moreau's performance as Jackie (sporting a striking peroxide hairdo and Pierre Cardin outfits) that we still root for her after an hour and a half of compulsive misbehavior.

The other side of the coin here is Jean (Claude Mann), a young banker whose big roulette score catapults him into the glittering but turbulent world of big wins and heavy losses. Though he had written one short film, Bay of Angels was his acting debut and led to a handful of roles throughout the years, most notably Jean-Pierre Melville's Army of Shadows (1969), Claude Lelouch's Happy New Year (1973), and Luchino Visconti's The Innocent (1976).

Of course, this is really Moreau's show all the way. A veteran stage actress who got her start with the Comédie Française, she had been acting in films since the late 1940s but didn't become a major French star until 1958 with the releases of Elevator to the Gallows and The Lovers. That acclaim was solidified one year before Bay of Angels in 1962 with her celebrating starring role in Jules and Jim as well as Orson Welles' The Trial and Joseph Losey's troubled but effective Eva, whose jazzy Michel Legrand score anticipates the same composer's rhapsodic work here.

Of course, Legrand and Demy themselves proved to be a nearly inseparable team until Demy's final film in 1988. While Umbrellas remains their most celebrated achievement, they had formed a solid musical partnership since Lola and would later collaborate on the colorful musicals The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967) and Donkey Skin (1970), among others. Interestingly, there isn't a single song in Bay of Angels, a rarity for a partnership famous for integrating music, song and dialogue.

Bay of Angels was released in American theaters to little fanfare in 1964 by Pathé Contemporary Films, though reviews were generally positive if dismissive; for example, the Motion Picture Herald praised its acting and technical execution but chided it for the "strong aroma of the cheap romantic novel." After it finished play dates in 1965, the film became virtually impossible to see until a restoration spearheaded by Demy's widow, Agnès Varda, and a theatrical reissue alongside Lola in 2001 from Wellspring. Seen in context with the director's subsequent work, it was quickly reappraised with Moreau in particular earning kudos for her difficult, multi-faceted role. Perhaps Combustible Celluloid phrased it best: "I've never seen her as lively and engaging as she is here - a part-time femme fatale shedding the ice-queen image she cultivated over the years."

By Nathaniel Thompson
Bay Of Angels

Bay of Angels

The work of French director Jacques Demy invites viewers to connect the dots between each film, with characters, plot elements, and even musical themes drifting from one to the next in the most unexpected places. However, he hadn't quite refined that sensibility yet when he made his second film, Bay of Angels (1963), one of the earliest films to treat gambling as an addiction rather than an amusing pastime or an element of the criminal underworld. Despite its subject matter involving a pair of lovers stuck in a cyclical and often destructive relationship with games of chance in Nice, this is ultimately the most optimistic of Demy's first three features, also including Lola (1961) and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), which all involve vulnerable women whose lives and romances are dramatically jeopardized. Exactly how much stock one puts in this film's glorious final shot depends on the level of optimism a viewer brings to the table, but it's a testament to Jeanne Moreau's performance as Jackie (sporting a striking peroxide hairdo and Pierre Cardin outfits) that we still root for her after an hour and a half of compulsive misbehavior. The other side of the coin here is Jean (Claude Mann), a young banker whose big roulette score catapults him into the glittering but turbulent world of big wins and heavy losses. Though he had written one short film, Bay of Angels was his acting debut and led to a handful of roles throughout the years, most notably Jean-Pierre Melville's Army of Shadows (1969), Claude Lelouch's Happy New Year (1973), and Luchino Visconti's The Innocent (1976). Of course, this is really Moreau's show all the way. A veteran stage actress who got her start with the Comédie Française, she had been acting in films since the late 1940s but didn't become a major French star until 1958 with the releases of Elevator to the Gallows and The Lovers. That acclaim was solidified one year before Bay of Angels in 1962 with her celebrating starring role in Jules and Jim as well as Orson Welles' The Trial and Joseph Losey's troubled but effective Eva, whose jazzy Michel Legrand score anticipates the same composer's rhapsodic work here. Of course, Legrand and Demy themselves proved to be a nearly inseparable team until Demy's final film in 1988. While Umbrellas remains their most celebrated achievement, they had formed a solid musical partnership since Lola and would later collaborate on the colorful musicals The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967) and Donkey Skin (1970), among others. Interestingly, there isn't a single song in Bay of Angels, a rarity for a partnership famous for integrating music, song and dialogue. Bay of Angels was released in American theaters to little fanfare in 1964 by Pathé Contemporary Films, though reviews were generally positive if dismissive; for example, the Motion Picture Herald praised its acting and technical execution but chided it for the "strong aroma of the cheap romantic novel." After it finished play dates in 1965, the film became virtually impossible to see until a restoration spearheaded by Demy's widow, Agnès Varda, and a theatrical reissue alongside Lola in 2001 from Wellspring. Seen in context with the director's subsequent work, it was quickly reappraised with Moreau in particular earning kudos for her difficult, multi-faceted role. Perhaps Combustible Celluloid phrased it best: "I've never seen her as lively and engaging as she is here - a part-time femme fatale shedding the ice-queen image she cultivated over the years." By Nathaniel Thompson

Restorations - Bay of Angels


Jacques Demy's BAY OF ANGELS

Often overlooked in studies of the French 'New Wave' movement that usually focus on Jean-Luc Godard or Francois Truffaut, Jacques Demy clearly deserves a retrospective of his own. While his visually elegant style of filmmaking was distinctly different from the realistic, take-it-to-the-streets approach of the other "New Wave" filmmakers, his preoccupation with romantic longing, chance encounters, and the role of fate in human lives gives his work a timeless quality that was once criticized by French critics as being too facile. Now, one of his finest films, Bay of Angels (1963), is enjoying a revival at the Film Forum in New York where it is being screened in a sparkling new black and white 35mm print from Winstar Cinema.

Bay of Angels, filmed in the picturesque resort of Nice, stars Jeanne Moreau as a platinum blonde who haunts the local casinos, having long ago abandoned her husband and child for her obsession with the gaming tables. In it's current revival, the film has elicted rave reviews from such critics as Armond White of The New York Press: "May be Moreau's most dazzling performance..an immediate confirmation of why she was an emblematic 60s European actress." The late critic Pauline Kael once called it, "a lyrical study in compulsion and luck, a passionate comedy...This is a magical, whirling little film, a triumph of style."

In a recent interview with Dave Kehr of The New York Times, actress Jeanne Moreau admitted that Bay of Angels is about "gambling and gambling is a very special way of handling one's life. The same as alcohol or bulimia, it is a way of refusing to face the facts of life and giving yourself up to an addiction. But I don't think of it as a disease. Gambling can be exciting, like everything, as long as you can get hold of it. It's like riding a wild horse. You have to be very, very strong. If you are incapable of riding a wild horse, don't jump on it. Everything that has to do with human passion is fascinating, as long as it doesn't make you a prisoner."

With any luck, Bay of Angels will win a new audience of admirers and encourage the restoration and release of other Jacques Demy films. Just a few years ago, his critically acclaimed romance, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), in which all the dialogue is sung (a startling new concept in 1964), resurfaced in a beautiful new color print. And just this past year saw the VHS and DVD release of his homage to the MGM musical, The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967) starring Catherine Deneuve, Francoise Dorleac, and Gene Kelly. So maybe someone will re-release Demy's delightful first film, Lola (1961) which he dedicated to Max Ophuls and stars Anouk Aimee as a cabaret singer in Nantes.

by Jeff Stafford

Restorations - Bay of Angels

Jacques Demy's BAY OF ANGELS Often overlooked in studies of the French 'New Wave' movement that usually focus on Jean-Luc Godard or Francois Truffaut, Jacques Demy clearly deserves a retrospective of his own. While his visually elegant style of filmmaking was distinctly different from the realistic, take-it-to-the-streets approach of the other "New Wave" filmmakers, his preoccupation with romantic longing, chance encounters, and the role of fate in human lives gives his work a timeless quality that was once criticized by French critics as being too facile. Now, one of his finest films, Bay of Angels (1963), is enjoying a revival at the Film Forum in New York where it is being screened in a sparkling new black and white 35mm print from Winstar Cinema. Bay of Angels, filmed in the picturesque resort of Nice, stars Jeanne Moreau as a platinum blonde who haunts the local casinos, having long ago abandoned her husband and child for her obsession with the gaming tables. In it's current revival, the film has elicted rave reviews from such critics as Armond White of The New York Press: "May be Moreau's most dazzling performance..an immediate confirmation of why she was an emblematic 60s European actress." The late critic Pauline Kael once called it, "a lyrical study in compulsion and luck, a passionate comedy...This is a magical, whirling little film, a triumph of style." In a recent interview with Dave Kehr of The New York Times, actress Jeanne Moreau admitted that Bay of Angels is about "gambling and gambling is a very special way of handling one's life. The same as alcohol or bulimia, it is a way of refusing to face the facts of life and giving yourself up to an addiction. But I don't think of it as a disease. Gambling can be exciting, like everything, as long as you can get hold of it. It's like riding a wild horse. You have to be very, very strong. If you are incapable of riding a wild horse, don't jump on it. Everything that has to do with human passion is fascinating, as long as it doesn't make you a prisoner." With any luck, Bay of Angels will win a new audience of admirers and encourage the restoration and release of other Jacques Demy films. Just a few years ago, his critically acclaimed romance, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), in which all the dialogue is sung (a startling new concept in 1964), resurfaced in a beautiful new color print. And just this past year saw the VHS and DVD release of his homage to the MGM musical, The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967) starring Catherine Deneuve, Francoise Dorleac, and Gene Kelly. So maybe someone will re-release Demy's delightful first film, Lola (1961) which he dedicated to Max Ophuls and stars Anouk Aimee as a cabaret singer in Nantes. by Jeff Stafford

Bay of Angels


Though New Wave director extraordinaire Jacques Demy is best known for explicitly starry-eyed faire like The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) and The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967), he could still tinge his romanticism with a sense of danger. Bay of Angels (1963, aka La Baie des Anges), a dual character study about a bank clerk who lets chance-taking slowly overwhelm his life, is a prime example. The picture, which has now been released on DVD by Wellspring, has lost little of its bite over the years. Jeanne Moreau's performance as a bleach-blonde gambling addict is a sight to behold, and Demy brilliantly conveys the primitive thrill of the roulette wheel. But he never lets us forget that his characters could lose more than mere money with each new bet.

Claude Mann stars as Jean Fournier, a Paris bank clerk who's drawn into the world of gambling by his thrill-seeking friend, Caron (Paul Guers.) Intrigued by Caron's lifestyle, Jean takes a vacation on the French Riviera, where he promptly has a run of luck at the casinos. Things start looking even better ¿(at first, anyway) when he meets Jackie Demaistre (Moreau), a sexy professional gambler. Although Jean soon discovers that gambling is the driving force in Jackie's life, he still hangs onto her, hoping against hope that love will somehow prevail over her unhealthy obsession. Michel Legrand's lush score lends an edge to his ordeal.

Jackie is the livewire that drives the picture, a treacherous mix of sexual allure and moral repulsion. She's one of the more memorable female characters in early-1960s cinema. Although she lies constantly, repeatedly denies that she needs Jean, and quickly latches onto any man who can give her another shot at laying down a bet, you can't help getting seduced by her recklessness.

Moreau is dressed as a vision in white by Pierre Cardin, and glows like a fallen angel as she wanders Jean Rabier's beautifully-lit black & white streets. Even the cigarette that casually dangles from her lips seems perfect. This woman is trouble, and Demy obviously loves her for it. Demy, it should be noted, knew a thing or two about gambling. He decided to make Bay of Angels after winning a large bet placed on the number 17. Jackie's lucky number is also 17.

Wellspring's packaging of Bay of Angels isn't likely to be confused with a Criterion Collection, but it gets the job done. The print is only adequate, with images that could use a bit more separation in the blacks and grays. This is a minor shame, since the cinematography is one of the film's highlights. Extras include the expected lists of credits, and a short clip from Agnes Varda's documentary, The World of Jacques Demy, which must be a hell of a film in and of itself- there's also an interesting snippet on the recent release of Demy's Lola (1962). Maybe one day some far-sighted company will see fit to include the whole thing as a bonus disc!

For more information about Bay of Angels, visit Wellspring Home Video. To order Bay of Angels, go to TCM Shopping.

by Paul Tatara

Bay of Angels

Though New Wave director extraordinaire Jacques Demy is best known for explicitly starry-eyed faire like The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) and The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967), he could still tinge his romanticism with a sense of danger. Bay of Angels (1963, aka La Baie des Anges), a dual character study about a bank clerk who lets chance-taking slowly overwhelm his life, is a prime example. The picture, which has now been released on DVD by Wellspring, has lost little of its bite over the years. Jeanne Moreau's performance as a bleach-blonde gambling addict is a sight to behold, and Demy brilliantly conveys the primitive thrill of the roulette wheel. But he never lets us forget that his characters could lose more than mere money with each new bet. Claude Mann stars as Jean Fournier, a Paris bank clerk who's drawn into the world of gambling by his thrill-seeking friend, Caron (Paul Guers.) Intrigued by Caron's lifestyle, Jean takes a vacation on the French Riviera, where he promptly has a run of luck at the casinos. Things start looking even better ¿(at first, anyway) when he meets Jackie Demaistre (Moreau), a sexy professional gambler. Although Jean soon discovers that gambling is the driving force in Jackie's life, he still hangs onto her, hoping against hope that love will somehow prevail over her unhealthy obsession. Michel Legrand's lush score lends an edge to his ordeal. Jackie is the livewire that drives the picture, a treacherous mix of sexual allure and moral repulsion. She's one of the more memorable female characters in early-1960s cinema. Although she lies constantly, repeatedly denies that she needs Jean, and quickly latches onto any man who can give her another shot at laying down a bet, you can't help getting seduced by her recklessness. Moreau is dressed as a vision in white by Pierre Cardin, and glows like a fallen angel as she wanders Jean Rabier's beautifully-lit black & white streets. Even the cigarette that casually dangles from her lips seems perfect. This woman is trouble, and Demy obviously loves her for it. Demy, it should be noted, knew a thing or two about gambling. He decided to make Bay of Angels after winning a large bet placed on the number 17. Jackie's lucky number is also 17. Wellspring's packaging of Bay of Angels isn't likely to be confused with a Criterion Collection, but it gets the job done. The print is only adequate, with images that could use a bit more separation in the blacks and grays. This is a minor shame, since the cinematography is one of the film's highlights. Extras include the expected lists of credits, and a short clip from Agnes Varda's documentary, The World of Jacques Demy, which must be a hell of a film in and of itself- there's also an interesting snippet on the recent release of Demy's Lola (1962). Maybe one day some far-sighted company will see fit to include the whole thing as a bonus disc! For more information about Bay of Angels, visit Wellspring Home Video. To order Bay of Angels, go to TCM Shopping. by Paul Tatara

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Opened in Paris in March 1963 as La baie des anges; running time: 89 min.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall November 24, 1964

Limited re-release in United States November 30, 2001

Re-released in United States March 29, 2002

Released in United States 1994

Shown at MOMA (Jeanne Moreau: Nouvelle Vague and Beyond) in New York City February 18 - March 25, 1994.

Began shooting September 1962

Completed shooting October 1962

Released in United States Fall November 24, 1964

Limited re-release in United States November 30, 2001 (New York City)

Re-released in United States March 29, 2002 (NuArt; Los Angeles)

Released in United States 1994 (Shown at MOMA (Jeanne Moreau: Nouvelle Vague and Beyond) in New York City February 18 - March 25, 1994.)