Un Village Francais: Season 1, Episode 6

I hate watching the final episode of a series, when I know there are more seasons available, and the TV channel does not let you know when they will continue broadcasting the series. I detest cliff hangers with a vehemence! And with this series there will be cliff hangers till the end, I’m afraid.

In the previous episode, Marcel Larcher had serious problems with his son finishing an assignment for school. All the children were going to write a letter to Petain and Marcel outright forbade Gustave to do the assignment, but teacher Lucienne did not accept that and this episode starts out with Gustave sitting at the breakfast table, trying to finish the assignment. Marcel has him reading it to him and actually is impressed with the message: “Right now our soldiers are in Germany and the German soldiers are here. It would be much better if our soldiers were here and the German soldiers in Germany”. But he is upset over his son’s spelling and mistakes, so he orders him to rewrite it all on a clean sheet of paper. Marcel goes out to talk to Suzanne, the post mistress, who has come to plan the action, with the leaflets. It is going to be very tight, them only having one hour. But Suzanne is confident that everything will work out. She works with a Madame Morvandieu, who is always late for work because of rheumatism, so if they are a tiny bit late, it is alright.

Marcel Larcher and Suzanne Richard

Marcel Larcher and Suzanne Richard

While they discuss things, Gustave grabs the only paper he finds in the kitchen. One of the leaflets that say OUT WITH THE GERMANS on it and he writes his letter on the back of it! Marcel doesn’t see it, but hurries Gustave and tells him that he must not tell anyone about Suzanne’s visit and he has to get himself to school. Suzanne drives off to fetch the newspapers from the printers, picking up Marcel on the way back and while she drives to town, Marcel sits in the back trying to get the leaflets in to the newspapers, but he can’t. Suzanne stops the van and joins him. Thanks to it being the 11 November, the edition is extra thick, because the Germans are forbidding the day to be “celebrated” and the strings around the bundles are extra tight. Suzanne refuses to abort the action and persuades Marcel to go on, even though they are both scared. First they cut the strings, put in the leaflets and then they drive by the lumber yard to steal more string.

In mayor Larcher’s kitchen, the atmosphere is tense. Hortense and Jean just do not know what to talk about when they are together. Daniel comes in and makes matters worse, when he asks Jean if Hortense is not the most beautiful woman in Villeneuve. Of course Jean wants to say so, but it would give his feelings away. Daniel tells his wife that she has to come with him to the soup kitchen, which has been set up in town. She is not too keen but he says that as the mayor’s wife, she has to.

Lucienne is preparing for class, when she finds out that not only is the headmaster coming to listen to the letters to Petain, being read up. So is Foulquier, from the school board and a German sergeant, in order to promote better relationships between the French and the Germans. Gustave arrives early, before everybody else, anxious to read his letter but also because his dad did not walk him there.

Marcel and Suzanne have been able to get all the leaflets in to the newspapers, and now he is running in to work, before everyone gets there, to get the string and finish the job before 09:00, when the newspapers have to be a the post office. What Marcel does not know, is that he is not alone in the lumber yard that morning, being up to no good. In a bed, owner Raymond and his mistress Marie, have just finished a session of sex, and Raymond jumps up to see why a van stops outside. He is bewildered at seeing Marcel, but can not do anything in the nude. He watches the theft of the string, and then goes back to bed. It seems like the couple’s new routine is to meet at the lumber yard, when Lorrain, Marie’s husband, is off visiting their children at his mother’s, but then she has to get back home since he goes back to do the milking after visiting them.

Mayor/Dr. Daniel Larcher and Under-prefect Servier

Mayor/Dr. Daniel Larcher and Under-prefect Servier

At the soup kitchen, Daniel and Hortense gets to listen to a most droll speech by the under-prefect Servier. Servier is disappointed in the lukewarm response from his audience and says that “The French only think about food”. Hortense retaliates and says “Well, the Germans take it all!” and she gets rebuked by Servier, but he is interrupted by Kommendant von Ritter, storming in. That is what he does in every episode, storms in, delivers his lines and then storms out. Ridiculous! He informs the mayor and under-prefect that all celebrations of the 11 November are prohibited and he will post guards at the war monument. I guess Daniel could not keep it back because he asks von Ritter “Are you afraid that the dead will demonstrate?”. Von Ritter does not take that well: “My father died at the Somme 1917 and personally I think it is a shame that we can not commemorate, but I am a soldier like my father and have to obey orders!”. Whereupon he leaves.

Suzanne drops Marcel off and they agree to not contact each other for three days, to be safe. At the school, the day has also started. Foulquier has arrived as have everyone else and the children are told that the best letter will be sent to Petain. They are also told that when they write to Petain, they write to France, the real France. Anti-Semite Foulquier points out that the new France has got rid of its old bad habits and the parasites. One can guess what he means by this.

While Gustave sits and waits his turn, his father has arrived to work and Raymond immediately wants answers to why he was in so early. Marcel lies and says he was out of cigarettes at home but Raymond tells him that he saw him take string. He tells Marcel that he could not care less but at that early of an hour? Marcel says that he is incorrect and Raymond doesn’t want to press things, so he tells Marcel that he needs to stop smoking in the mornings if he wants the cigarette ration to last all month and Marcel plays along, saying that it is not easily done.

While at the soup kitchen, Jean finds out that old Camille Heusinger, the man who tattle told (?) on Sarah Meyer, has been found dead. Hortense goes there to deal with the body and write the death certificate, so that Daniel can get back to his duties. Old Camille froze to death since he slept with his windows open, so it is all straight forward, but Jean and Hortense are extremely stiff with each other. Jean feels he has to say something, trying to break the ice perhaps, so he makes sure to tell Hortense how much he loves staying with them and Hortense responds that they love having him live with them. They are certainly an accident ready to happen! While they sit there at Camille’s table, the newspaper arrives and Jean discovers the leaflet right away. Vive La France!

Meanwhile in the school, this boy has read his letter, which states that it would be so nice if all soldiers could come home for Christmas and if the children could get chocolate. Foulquier reacts severely and scolds Lucienne for not teaching the children that collaboration between France and Germany is more important than chocolate. That France has to be cleansed and resurrect in a new better form. The German sergeant feels sorry for her, because she always shows what a bimbo and nervous wreck she is.

Jean has started the investigation, trying to find out who are the culprits of the leaflet action. He determines that they could only have been put in to the newspapers at two locations. But at Sayolles, where they were printed, they were guarded between 04:00-06:00. So he determines that it must have been done at the second location, at the post office and someone there must have been involved. He tells De Kerven, Daniel and Servier and the latter is petrified with what the Germans might do. Jean says that it must be Suzanne Richard, post mistress, 38 years old, mother of two and with her husband at a work camp in Germany, who is the guilty one. But he says that it must be a group action, and the only ones organized are the communists. Daniel points out that the communists are not saying “out with the Germans” at all, since they do not see them as the enemy! But Jean insists, it must be the communists and Daniel’s brother Marcel has been a registered communist since 1936. Daniel says that there is no proof that his brother still is one and does Jean really intend to arrest him? Servier tells him that they brought in Bellini’s son, so it is not more than right that they bring in he mayor’s brother for questioning! Jean says that he will start with Suzanne since she arrived late to the post office, at 09:00, and then he will go after Marcel.

Future lovers? Lucienne and her German Sergeant

Future lovers? Lucienne and her German Sergeant

At the school, the turn has finally come to Gustave and he walks up in front of the class to read the letter to Petain. The headmaster informs Foulquier that Gustave is the mayor’s nephew and Foulquier asks if they should not just choose his letter then. But they decide to hear it first, since it is the most fair on the children. Gustave reads his letter and both the headmaster and Foulquier are impressed but before they can do anything, the German sergeant runs up and grabs the letter from Gustave and takes it to the stove and burns it. He noticed the back side of the paper and wanted to save Gustave. But when Foulquier screams out that it was a great letter, the sergeant tells him that it was bad because all the German soldiers are happy to be in France.

Marcel gets contacted by his communist Vichy contact, who shows him the leaflet and tells him that the police is about to arrest Suzanne and he wants to assure himself that Marcel has nothing to do with it all. The noose is tightening.

Raymond Schwartz affair with Marie, is now reaping its rewards. He storms in to his wife who sits drinking by her make up table, and he is livid. Jeannine has written to her father, who is the true owner of the farm they lease to Marie and Lorrain, and she has asked her dad to evict the couple.

imageAt the same time Suzanne is arrested. Madame Morvandieu, who usually gets to the post office late thanks to her rheumatism, arrived early that day, because she had been helping at the  soup kitchen before work. She swears that Suzanne did not arrive until 09:00. Suzanne having said that she arrived at 08:00 and then went to her father’s grave to pray, is now in deep trouble. But she alters her story, and says that the rule says that she has to drop the newspapers as soon as they are delivered, but since she knew that noone would be at work until 09:30 that day, she decided to go to he grave first and then to work. Jean still locks her up because he can feel that she is scared.

At the school, the headmaster is upset after the reading. The letter was so good and why did the German burn it? He intends to go and formally complain. “Noone understands the Germans!” Lucienne walks by him and says “Perhaps that is why they won the war?” and she continues out to the school yard, making sure she walks really close to the sergeant, and tells him thank you in passing.

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Madame Morvandieu is asked once again about Suzanne’s whereabouts and if she has acted different during the week. If Madame M. does not answer, she will be held as an accomplice and that does the trick alright. She tells Jean that Suzanne has been seen with Marcel Larcher.

Raymond is acting very strangely in my opinion. Screaming at his wife, I guess acts like Viagra for him, because in the middle of the screaming, she starts to stick her tongue at him, both of them being equally turned on. I must say that the scene just holy, completely disgusted me. Especially since we all know that he spent the morning in bed with Marie. But perhaps it was to save Marie and his relationship with her, that he slept with his disgusting wife? He tells her that it is over but is interrupted since Jean Marchetti has arrived to talk to him. Now I finally understood what went on in the first episode when people were running around at the lumber yard. Jean is a McCarthy! He sees communist conspiracies everywhere and that is why he investigated the lumber yard. He was correct that there was a communist group there and they actually used the office copy machine, to print their leaflets. He asks Raymond if he still has the copy machine and Raymond tells him that after two break ins, there is nothing left to steal. The copy machine having been stolen as well. Jean does not believe thieves would steal such a thing but Raymond’s anger is aroused by now. “Out with the Germans? That is not my thing. I want to keep the few customers I still have!” He does not mention Marcel though, even though he fully well knows what Marcel needed the string for.

imageDe Kerven is upset with himself. Madame Morhange, who now works for him, becomes his confidant. He tells her that if he had taken charge of the case, he could have turned a blind eye to certain things but Marchetti is like a blood hound and will find and punish the culprits, since he is all for the collaboration politics.

Marcel understands that he is in grave danger. He runs to the school and takes Gustave away while Lucienne screams at him that she will go to the headmaster and tattle tell. Marcel tells Gustave that he must go live with uncle Daniel for a while but when Marcel gets to the Larcher house, he is anything but nice. Daniel actually asks him how he can come there and ask him for a favour at the same time as he blames him for everything. Marcel asks his brother to not tell the police for a couple of hours, that he has been there and then he runs off. But not in to hiding. He goes home to get rid of communist evidence and of course Jean is already outside the door, waiting for him. At the police station, Suzanne denies knowing Marcel at all. Marcel being a gentleman, takes all the blame. He says that he seduced poor Suzanne in order to get access to the newspapers. After they made love, she fell asleep in the van and he went in to action. De Kerven, is present and he lets out a sigh of relief and says “So that is why they have been seen together. It is adultery, not politics” in order to save them or Suzanne at least. Trying to see if Marchetti will swallow it. Marcel begs “Please do not ruin her reputation by letting this come out!”. Jean, being self-righteous, starts saying that she does not deserve to be saved since she is married, has committed adultery and has a husband in a work camp. But De Kerven feels that they should not make a big deal of it.

Madame Morvandieu did tell the police that Suzanne goes to pray by her father’s grave every single morning, so when Marcel points out that they met at the cemetery, it is believable. The judge certainly falls for it and Suzanne gets off but Marcel is interned according to some law of 1939 and it is believed that he might get 6 months for the offence with the leaflets.

If things were stiff in the Larcher household before, they certainly are now, with little Gustave at the dinner table, and Jean Marchetti, the house guest, having arrested the doctor’s brother, Hortense’s brother-in-law and Gustave’s father. Who knows how it will all develop? Lucienne obviously will have it off with a imageGerman soldier and have her head shaved at the end of the war, for having slept with the enemy. De Kerven’s love for Madame Morhange obviously will have a sad ending. Jean and Hortense no doubt will get together sooner or later. And Raymond will hardly give up Marie for his disgusting alcoholic wife, who is the one with the money, but she might have waved that carrot too many times. But time will tell if I am right or not!

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November 12, 2014 · 21:07

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