ⓘ The Lovers (1958 film)

The Lovers (1958 film)

ⓘ The Lovers (1958 film)

The Lovers is a 1958 French drama film directed by Louis Malle which stars Jeanne Moreau, Alain Cuny, and Jean-Marc Bory. Based on the novel Point de Lendemain by Dominique Vivant, the film concerns a woman involved in adultery who rediscovers human love. The Lovers was Malles second feature film, made when he was 25 years old. The film was a box-office hit in France when released theatrically gaining 2.594.160 admissions in France alone. The film was highly controversial when released in the United States for its depiction of allegedly obscene material. At the 1958 Venice Film Festival, the film won the Special Jury Prize and was nominated for the Golden Lion.


1. Plot

Jeanne Tournier Moreau lives with her husband Henri Alain Cuny and child in a mansion near Dijon. Her emotionally remote husband is a busy newspaper owner who has little time for his wife, except when he chooses to place demands upon her; often they sleep in separate rooms. Jeanne escapes to Paris regularly when she can spend time with her chic friend Maggy Judith Magre and the polo-playing Raoul Jose Luis de Vilallonga, Maggys friend and Jeannes lover.

Jeannes constant talk of Maggy and Raoul leads to Henri demanding that Jeanne invite them to dinner and to stay as overnight guests. Jeannes car breaks down on the day of the dinner party, and she accepts a lift from a younger man, Bernard Jean-Marc Bory, and then asks him to drive her home. By the time they get back, Maggy and Raoul have already arrived at the mansion. It transpires that Bernard, an archaeologist, is the son of a friend of Jeannes husband, and he too is added to the guest list. Jeanne spurns Raouls advances, claiming it is too dangerous, but she spends time in a small boat on the river with the attentive Bernard. Clandestinely, they spend the night together. In the morning, to the surprise of everyone, Jeanne leaves with Bernard for a new life.


2. Cast

  • Gaston Modot as Coudray
  • Jose Luis de Vilallonga as Raoul Flores
  • Gib Grossac
  • Jeanne Moreau as Jeanne Tournier
  • Michele Girardon as La secretaire
  • Pierre Frag
  • Alain Cuny as Henri Tournier
  • Georgette Lobre as Marthe
  • Jean-Marc Bory as Bernard Dubois-Lambert
  • Judith Magre as Maggy Thiebaut-Leroy
  • Lucienne Hamon as Chantal
  • Claude Mansard as Marcelot

3. American obscenity case

The film is important in American legal history as it resulted in a court case that questioned the definition of obscenity. A showing of the film in Cleveland Heights, Ohios Coventry Village resulted in a criminal conviction of the theatre manager for public depiction of obscene material. He appealed his conviction to the United States Supreme Court, which reversed the conviction and ruled that the film was not obscene in its written opinion Jacobellis v. Ohio. The case resulted in Justice Potter Stewarts famously subjective definition of hard-core pornography: "I know it when I see it." Stewart did not consider the film to be such.

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