ANOTHER MAN, ANOTHER WOMAN
France, 1977, 128 minutes, Colour.
James Caan, Genevieve Bujold, Francis Huster, Susan Tyrell, Jennifer Warren, Richard Farnsworth.
Directed by Claude Lelouch.
Another Man, Another Woman was written and directed by Claude Lelouch. Lelouch is one of the most romantic of French film directors. He also was prolific, directing films for almost fifty years from the early 1960s. He made a huge impact with his Oscar-winning film of 1966, A Man and a Woman.
Another Man, Another Woman is more than gimmicky title as a reminder of Claude Lelouch's most famous film A Man And A Woman. This is a partial remake set in the American West of the 1870s. It is broad in scope, opening in Paris with wars and revolutions, the heroine's marriage and migrating to America parallelling the hero's work as a vet in the west. Many plot details of the original are charmingly repeated and, indeed, the whole film can be described as a "very nice western".
The setting is not the original’s contemporary France but a French story of the 19th century about migration to the New World. Genevieve Bujold portrays a young woman who marries a photographer (Francis Huster) and they migrate to the United States of the 1870s. What they find is a very wild west. They try to set up a photography shop but eventually the husband dies. When the widow decides to return to France, she encounters an animal doctor, played by James Caan. The two fall in love – and decide to stay and continue their pioneering lives in the west.
The film is full of western flavour with the romantic touch of Lelouch. The film also has an interesting supporting cast, especially Susan Tyrrell who specialised in playing prostitute roles. She stands out here with a strong characterisation. Also to be seen in an early role is Richard Farnsworth who eventually made a strong impression in The Grey Fox, Comes a Horseman and The Straight Story.
Very attractive to look at, with a French writer-director's view of the west and James Caan and Genevieve Bujold as the appealing stars.
1. The focus of the title, its reference to the director's A Man And A Woman and his earlier treatment of such romantic themes? The title as a gimmick, indication of a remake? The basic elements of male/female relationships? The theme of another chance?
2. The reputation of the director for his colourful romances, his insight into men and women and their relationship? His use of colour, the soft and emotional touch? His presentation of children? Themes of experience and of fate, especially guiding men and women to each other?
3. The purpose of this remake? Transferring to the 19th. century, to the French tradition and the American tradition and their blending? The echo of the French style romance and the romance of the American west? How well did these styles blend in this film? A nice western?
4. A French view of the French of the 19th. century and the plight in Paris during the time of wars and revolutions,, the motives of the immigrants, their journeys, hopes for America and the New World and the west? Life in the French cities,, poverty, hunger and survival? The transition to hope in a new world? A chance to build a future?
5. The effect of the structure of the film: the use of photos as a record, the photographer's eye and selection, the family album? How well did it work, having the protagonists involved with the director in recording this history? France and survival and its impact on Jeanne. David and his survival in the American west? The interplaying of the two stories and bringing the two closer and closer. fate and chance? The bonds between the two and their meeting at the right time, with mutual needs? The intertwining of the two stories, the persons,, their families, part of the American heritage of the 19th century?
6. How interesting and enjoyable was the flavour of the French story of the 19th. century? The presentation of the city, revolution and violence, poverty, hunger lines at the bakers'? Jeanne as the daughter of a baker, engaged to the solider, the formal dinner for the announcement of the engagement? Her encounter with Francis and seeing him taking the photographs? Her sudden decision at the meal to break off? Her moving in with Francis and the bond between the two Francises and the intensity of his vision of these troubled times? How important was the sequence of discussing the selling of his equipment? The arguments pro and con migrating and staying? The bargains and the dealing with the man who wanted to buy? The irony of their all going? What were they leaving and what were they gaining?
7. The portrayal of the voyage, illness, hopes, learning English, Jeanne and the baby? Her role on the ship and helping others?
8. The device of showing New York and the arrival through the collage of photos at her father's shop? What was said and portrayed in this collage? the migrants, the treatment at the New York wharves, the look of New York, opportunities? The transition to the west and the outback and the country? Jeanne's father and the visitors' comments? Meanwhile the experience of Jeanne and Francis going on the train, the wagons.. the hucksters doing deals, the sense of group, the many months on the tracks,, being tired? The romantic interlude and the break with their marrying out in the open air?
9. The way that they settled the west, their decision to stay in a town, the detail of looking over the shop and their liking it, buying it? Setting up the studio, the details of photography in those days with the posings and the lighting? The first day and the clientele getting free photos, the ironic backgrounds and the use of Paris? Their clientele, Francis having to travel, the hopes for illustrations in the newspapers and the sympathy of the newspaper staff but lack of money? His going to photograph Billy the Kid and the dead outlaws? Their working together, the baby and their joy in a happy marriage? Why the dramatic interruption and not giving the information about Francis' death till later on? What picture of the marriage until then? As a build-up for Jeanne's encounter with David whom we had also got to know?
10. How sympathetic a character was David ? his work as a vet, his relationship with his wife and her loneliness in the west, the parents wanting them to cow to the city? Her expecting and hoping for some solution when the baby was born? His work, gambling e.g. pool on horseback? David as a genial person of the west?
11. His love for his wife but her difficulties, the difficult birth? Their staying and the boy growing up? The horror of the meaningless raping and killing? The baby left? David's return and the gradual realisation of what had happened and his grief? The irony of her locket and its later reappearance?
12. How sad was the funeral sequence, the parents, their decisions and David's to leave the place, the lack of work? His moving, getting a job, the hotel, leaving his son with Alice? The ironic coinciding of his passing by Francis' and Jeanne's shop?
13. Alice as the link between the two? Her background as a prostitute, her change of job, teaching the children and that men were like children and so she was qualified? Her humorous attitude towards life? Her classes, spelling, themes of the west in their general knowledge and the effect on the children? David entrusting his son to her? Jeanne leaving her daughter with her? Alice looking after the children all those years and learning to love them? Her help of Jeanne and David?
14. The build up to the accidental meeting between David and Jeanne? Going to see their children (and the echoes of Lelouch's original film?), the happy day, the question of Jeanne's availability and the placing of the flashback about Francis' death in this context? The arrival of the man and his son, the photo, the brutality of the shooting, Jeanne's grief, her having to survive by herself? Having her daughter in the school?
15. The director's famous human touch with the presentation of the children, the picnic, the bonds between them all on the Sunday outing? The riding? Jeanne and David and their journey home? David's hope? How humane these family sequences?
16. The importance of the race ? Francis' idea, the newspaper's support? (How well delineated the personnel of the newspaper over the years?) David and his horse, building up, watching the training? The build-up to the race and the amount of attention given to it ? how enjoyable? A picture of the spirit and morale of western towns? The runners, the carriages, the riders? The winner on foot and the Indian's skill in running, David as second?
17. Jeanne and her feelings after the encounter with David, deciding not to return with him, the gift of the cap, her note of farewell and her decision to leave?
18. The placing of the interlude with the outlaws at this point? David's help, the cup of coffee, the discovery of the locket, his return and the confrontation, the lies and his killing, handing over to the Sheriff? The continued reminder of the violent west?
19. His pensive mood, the gift of the cap, his going to find Jeanne and the children and her photographing them on the hillside? The happy reunion and the running together? The closing of the album? Jeanne's final comments?
20. How enjoyable the perennial values of love and family, presented with charm, with family depth? Hope in a difficult and sometimes ugly world? An optimistic film?