[box cover]

Bay of Angels

For something so physically inactive, gambling is a rather cinematic sport. Perhaps it's due to the why of the character's bet, or because of their compulsion. Jacques Demy's Bay of Angels (1963), his follow up to Lola (1961), tells the love story between two gamblers. Jean Fournier (Claude Mann) has shown no interest in the roulette wheel until co-worker Caron (Paul Guers) takes him gambling one weekend, to which Jean wins half a million francs. About to take a vacation anyway, Jean then decides to go to the Riviera — also known as the "Bay of Angels" — to press his luck. Jean seems to have a natural gift, which casino-patron Jackie (Jeanne Moreau) notices and rides, to success for both. Thus begins a strange courtship — Jean sees how addicted Jackie is to gambling. Riding from million-franc wins to empty pockets, Jackie is a compulsive gambler who has no real interest in money — she simply likes the ride (which she usually doesn't watch), and has alienated herself from her husband and child because of it. Jean and Jackie shack up, but her love of gambling precludes any human connections, and he feels awkward for taking second place in her life, especially as his finances are crushed along with hers in a bad streak. A film about people with compulsive behavior, in someone else's hands Bay of Angels would have become a morality-tract about the dangers of betting. Fortunately, Demy never judges Jackie's condition, nor does he romanticize it. What Demy understands above all else is that for a cinematic romance to work — like in gambling — there must be stakes, and those stakes can't be sold short. Here he finds characters to invest in, and it's hard not to empathize with them, even if we sense danger or foolishness in their actions. A woman's director, Demy gives Moreau's the film best role, and she embodies the bottle-blonde Jackie both with gusto and a certain sadness. It's a strong performance and the center of this oddly romantic little film, which makes one appreciate Demy's talents all the more. Wellspring presents Bay of Angels in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) and with a incorrect running-time on the package (the film runs 83 minutes, the box says 78). Audio comes in both 2.0 stereo and a Dolby Digital 5.1 remix that is slightly less hollow than the similarly revamped Lola. Just the same, the 2.0 mix is better. Extras comprise an excerpt from The World of Jacques Demy (4 min.), a trailer, and filmographies. Keep-case.
— DSH



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