The Man on the Eiffel Tower (1949)

August 1st, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Burgess Meredith | Cast: Charles Laughton, Franchot Tone, Burgess Meredith, Robert Hutton, Jean Wallace, Patricia Roc, Belita | Drama

Georges Simenon used to boast that he never bothered to watch the films based on his books and a clause in his contract for this particular adaptation stipulated the withdrawal of all prints from circulation after fifteen years, with the result that for over thirty years it only existed in bootleg prints and Burgess Meredith in a 1979 interview lamented the disappearance of this film and said he’d love to see a decent colour print of it.

The original director Irving Allen ran foul of Laughton (not an uncommon occurrence) after only three days and the task of making it fell to the three leading actors who took responsibility for all the scenes in which they themselves didn’t appear; the main credit therefore going to Meredith since he had by far the smallest part.

In addition to the record in colour it provides of postwar Paris, the film is significant for providing Laughton with his first taste of direction and provided in cameraman Stanley Cortez the collaborator who realised his ill-fated masterpiece ‘The Night of the Hunter’, with the perverse result that he gives a surprisingly uninvolved performance as Maigret while it’s Franchot Tone who wildly overacts. @RichardChatten


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