At the Grand Balcony

1949 Drama

French filmmaker Henry Decoin was better known for his stylistic panache than his creative originality. In Au Grand Terrace (originally released in 1949 as Au Grand Balcon), Decoin weaves a familiar story with finesse. Like the director himself, the film's hero is World War I aviator Carbot, played by Pierre Fresnay. After the war, Carbot attempts to establish a commercial airline, for the purpose of delivering the mail to the outermost regions of France. There's plenty of Only Angels Have Wings-style heroics as Carbot's pilots face injury and death while braving the elements to meet their appointed rounds. The film's nominal heroine, Maryse, played by Jeannine Crispin, has little to do but wait anxiously as the pilots go about their duties.