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Manon (1949)

An adaptation of Abbe Prevost's classic French novel 'Manon Lescaut', updated to post-World War II France, in which a former French Resistance activist rescues Manon from villagers who want... See full summary »


Abbé Prévost (inspired by the novel) (as L'Abbé Prévost), Henri-Georges Clouzot (scenario) (as H.G. Clouzot) | 1 more credit »
2 wins. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Serge Reggiani ... Léon Lescaut
Michel Auclair ... Robert Desgrieux
Cécile Aubry ... Manon Lescaut
Andrex ... Le trafiquant
Raymond Souplex ... M. Paul
André Valmy André Valmy ... Lieutenant Besnard / Bandit Chief
Henri Vilbert Henri Vilbert ... Le commandant du navire / Ship's Captain
Héléna Manson Héléna Manson ... La commère (une paysanne normande)
Dora Doll ... Juliette
Simone Valère ... Isé, la soubrette
Gabrielle Fontan Gabrielle Fontan ... La vendeuse à la toilette
Wanda Ottoni Wanda Ottoni
Rosy Varte Rosy Varte ... Petit rôle
Edmond Ardisson ... (as Ardisson)
Michel Bouquet ... Le second


An adaptation of Abbe Prevost's classic French novel 'Manon Lescaut', updated to post-World War II France, in which a former French Resistance activist rescues Manon from villagers who want to lynch her for collaborating with the Nazis. They move to Paris, but their relationship quickly turns stormy after they get involved in profiteering, prostitution and murder... Written by Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Crime


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Release Date:

9 March 1949 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Манон See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Alcina See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


In Italy, the film was shown only in original version with subtitles for censorship reasons. See more »


Manon Lescaut: There is nothing dirty when we love each other.
["Il n'y a rien de dégoûtant quand on s'aime."]
See more »


Version of Manon (1910) See more »

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User Reviews

Nothing is dirty when we love each other.....
20 October 2003 | by dbdumonteilSee all my reviews

"Manon" might well be Clouzot's masterpiece ,surpassing even "diabolique " " le salaire de la peur" or "le corbeau".

It's an adaptation of "l'histoire de Manon Lescault et du chevalier des Grieux" by L'Abbé Prévost, a novel from the XVIIIth century ,but never mind.When HGC Clouzot takes a novel,he makes it his very own .He would do the same for detective story " celle qui n'était plus " which he completely rewrote for "les diaboliques"

Clouzot's misanthropy has never been so omnipresent that in this opus.He became an outcast after the liberation in 1945 because of his "collaboration" -"le corbeau " was produced by a German firm-and one cannot help but think that his painting of the end of WW2 seems a settling of scores:the cropped women -they say it happened to the star of "le corbeau " Ginette Leclerc who had a lot of problems too-,the black market ,the war profiteers ,no one is spared in this wholesale massacre.Serge Regianni epitomizes the scumbag ,in a part which sometimes recalls that of Carné's "les portes de la nuit".But evil is not only inside him,it's everywhere :Clouzot's world is noir ,noir ,noir and leaves absolutely no hope to the audience .

And however the way he films his lovers is stunning:on the ship, Manon under the pouring rain,trying to spend her last hours with Robert;Manon ,in the confessional,in a church in ruins ,explaining to Robert she did not do any harm to anyone and that, had the American come first ,she would not have played around with the Germans ;the first night of love where the lovers become shadows in the dark;Robert finding Manon in a brothel;Manon desperately searching for her lover in the overcrowded carriage ;and mainly mainly the extraordinary final scenes the romanticism of which surpassing even the frenzied passion of "Colorado territory" or "duel in the sun".Actually ,Clouzot's extravaganza is not unlike Von Stroheim's "greed" 's madness.

The male lead ,Michel Auclair,is absolutely extraordinary :the last ten minutes are his and he 's so moving that he carries these sequences in the desert single -handedly as much as he carries Manon' s dead body.But Clouzot's directing will leave you on the edge of your seat as well:the long walk under a blistering sun ,the cactuses which become ghosts from the past ,Robert burying Manon in the sand and screaming that now she's his at last.

Cécile Aubry (debut) portrays Manon . Seven years before Carroll Baker in "baby doll", she is a femme enfant -much more than a femme fatale-.She's not evil,but she lives in a hostile world and she does not want to live like her mother,she needs luxury;it's a sensitive character who feels remorse ,pain and loves Robert dearly even when she cheats on him outrageously.Her good-natured sexuality and her absence of hypocrisy predates that of Brigitte Bardot by seven years too.

Their problem is the world outside :that's why the key of the movie is the sequence in the oasis "why couldn't we stay here forever? " Manon asks.As they leave this haven of peace -the only minutes of happiness in the whole movie" ,Clouzot films their reflections in the cool clear water.And the fact that Manon and Robert are looking for a promise land in the desert in the company of Jews ,what a symbol!"paradise is too far away"she says.

The rest of the cast features some of the best actors of the era:Serge Regianni,Manon's dirty brother;Gabrielle Dorziat ,a madam ,screaming "quel bordel!" ; Helena Manson,the nurse in "le corbeau" who wants to punish the whore who sleeps with the enemy;and more and more and more..

Another permanent feature in Clouzot's work is the sordidness of the places:the crummy boarding-school of "les diaboliques" ,the seedy apartments in "quai des orfèvres" ,the poor hospital in "les espions" ,and here the ship where they pack Jews on their way to Palestine ,not to mention the desert with its animal skeletons -soon to be joined by those of the Jews-

The action of this movie is remarkably dense ,and its construction very subtle :the film begins with the illegal embarkation of the Jews ,and then ,at the least expected moment,the lovers appear for the first time and shortly afterwards tell the captain their sad story .

Did French cinema need the nouvelle vague so bad when it had a genius like Clouzot?"Manon" is an absolute must.

N.B.1.Another modern "Manon" "Manon 70" (sic) was made in the sixties with Catherine Deneuve ,but it was laughable.

2.Cécile Aubry's actress career was short-lived;in the sixties ,she moved into the -rather bland- serial for children ,the likes of "Belle et Sebastien" featuring her own son;she was very successful.

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