Cannes Classics | Update : 20.12.18 . 1:16 PM

The day Henri Decoin brought Hollywood to France

Film still of Battement de coeur (Beating Heart)

Film still of Battement de coeur (Beating Heart) © RR

French pre-war classic Battement de cœur (Beating Heart) (1940) was one of the high points of Danielle Darrieux's career, who lent the perfect finishing touch to Henri Decoin's romantic comedy with an American twist. Screened in a restored version as part of Cannes Classics, the film was a resounding success upon release at the dawning of World War 2.

Following on from Retour à l’aube (Return at Dawn) (1938), Henri Decoin aspired to produce a light, fast-paced comedy similar to those being released in Hollywood. A few months earlier, the director had accompanied his wife Danielle Darrieux to shoot her first American film, The Rage of Paris. On set, he kept a close eye on the methods used by film-maker Henry Koster's teams.


Upon arriving back in France, Decoin was inspired to inject the rules of American comedy into his new French project, hoping to outshine his American counterpart's movie, which hadn't succeeded as expected. He decided to use rising star Danielle Darrieux as his lead, with the 22-year-old actor playing a young orphan forced into learning to pickpocket, who falls in love with a young embassy attaché played by Claude Dauphin.


Beating Heart's plot was dreamt up by Max Colpet and Hans Wilhelm, two German scriptwriters who had sought refuge in France. The two writers are listed in the film's credits under pseudonyms.


Filmed over the summer of 1939, the film was released in February 1940 during the Phoney War period. The light-hearted nature of this feature film stood out in its contrast with the political climate that reigned over Europe at the time. In 1945, American director Sam Wood remade the film with Ginger Rogers and Jean-Pierre Aumont, although Heartbeat was never distributed in France.


Presented by Gaumont. 2K restoration in partnership with the CNC. Film remastering carried out by Eclair, sound restored by L.E. Diapason in partnership with Eclair.

Written by Benoit Pavan

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Cannes Classics



FRANCE - 1939



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