blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Mademoiselle Fifi (1944, Robert Wise)

Mademoiselle Fifi is split down the center, roughly, into two parts. The first involves Simone Simon on the trip to her hometown. The second is when she reaches the town. The film takes place in occupied France during the Franco-Prussian War, but it opens with a title card presenting it as an analogue to World War II.

The first half, with Simon’s laundress winning over her fellow travelers, a bunch of stuck-up upper crust who don’t understand why she doesn’t associate with the occupying Prussians. Fifi tries hard to be about recognizing the evils of passive collaboration. It’s more successful when it’s just about Simon and her experiences. It plays very naturally at those times.

Unfortunately, the finale is entirely artificial and contrived, so Fifi falls apart quite a bit. The short runtime is partially responsible. With a few more minutes, the film could introduce real characters into the second half instead of filler. The first half has extremely memorable ones, particularly Jason Robards Sr. as an obnoxious wine wholesaler and Kurt Kreuger as the titular villain. Even the less compelling characters are distinct. Not so at the end, when Fifi mostly introduces Prussian officer caricatures and vapid collaborators.

Simon’s excellent in the lead, as is John Emery as the armchair intellectual she inspires.

Technically, the film’s mediocre. Harry J. Wild’s photography is nice. J.R. Whittredge has some good transitions but, otherwise, his editing is weak. Wise’s direction is indistinct.

Fifi‘s impressive parts make the whole acceptable.

2 responses to “Mademoiselle Fifi (1944, Robert Wise)”

  1. Believe it or not, I haven’t seen “Mademoiselle Fifi” from beginning to end, just clips here and there. Even though this isn’t a stellar review, I’m still interested in seeing it and deciding from myself. Lewton was challenged by budgets and run time, as you noted, but he still was able to construct some interesting and in some cases enduring films.

  2. thanks for this post,it was a nice addition in covering as many Lewton movies as possible and was interesting to read about one of his “other” genres

Leave a Reply

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: