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Mississippi Mermaid
cast: Jean-Paul Belmondo, Catherine Deneuve, Michel Bouquet, Nelly Borgeaud, and Marcel Berbert

director: François Truffaut

118 minutes (12) 1969
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
MGM DVD Regions 2 + 4 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Gary Couzens
Louis Mahe (Jean-Paul Belmondo) owns a tobacco factory on the French-owned Indian Ocean island of Réunion. He places an ad for a mail-order bride and along comes Julie (Catherine Deneuve). Louis is enraptured by Julie's beauty, but it soon becomes clear that there is more to her than at first appears. And when she disappears without trace, taking most of Louis' money with her, Louis is determined to track her down.

Mississippi Mermaid (aka: La sirène du Mississipi [sic]) is a lightweight diversion in Truffaut's career. In plot terms, it's prime film noir, showing the corruption of a man's soul with the help of a femme fatale. But in Truffaut's hands it's an indulgence: two glamorous stars and the peak of their glamorousness, lush widescreen photography, occasional bursts of action, a couple of brief Deneuve nude scenes to give the film an air of late-1960s' sauciness, not to mention some in-jokes. (Michel Bouquet's private detective is named after the then editor of Cahiers du Cinema.) It's an agreeable divertissement for the two hours it's on, but it tends to fade rapidly in the memory. It's not one of Truffaut's most lasting works but it's certainly worth a look for his admirers.

In Mississippi Mermaid, Truffaut returned to shooting in scope, a format he'd abandoned after his first three features and the short Antoine et Colette. This DVD is one of five released by MGM and is the only one to be given an anamorphic transfer, in the correct ratio of 2.35:1. Picture quality is generally good, once you get past the very scratchy opening credits. The soundtrack is the original French-language mono, with subtitles available in English (for the hard-of-hearing), French, Dutch, Danish and Greek. Menus are available in English or French. The only extra is a trailer (non-anamorphic 2.35:1 and in noticeably worse condition), which runs for one and a half minutes. It has an American voiceover, to avoid putting anyone off by the presence of subtitles.

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