Classic film heritage carried by the unforgettable duo Louis Jouvet and Arletty, “Hôtel du Nord” by Marcel Carné, broadcast tonight on Arte, is also known for being one of the most famous replicas of French cinema.
Adaptation of the novel The Hotel du Nord by Eugène Dabit and released in 1938, Hôtel du Nord by Marcel Carné, broadcast this evening on Arte, is one of the jewels of French cinematographic heritage.
That is to say the fortunes and misfortunes of a colorful clientele staying at the famous hotel, located on the banks of the Canal Saint-Martin, in Paris. Among her, a couple, Mr. Edmond, a mysterious man, and Raymonde, a prostitute. Louis Jouvet and Arletty, a legendary duo in a work so famous for containing one of the most famous replicas of French cinema.
The dialogue, written by Henri Jeanson, takes place between Raymonde (Arletty) and Edmond (Louis Jouvet). They are on a lock that spans the Saint-Martin canal, not far from the Hôtel du Nord that we can see. Edmond wants to go fishing at La Varenne and complains about Raymonde, whom he finds too tacky, while she would like him to go with her to Toulon.
Mr. Edmond: I need a change of atmosphere, and my atmosphere is you.
Ms. Raymonde: “It’s the first time that I have been called an atmosphere! If I am an atmosphere, you’re a strange place! The guys who are from the middle without being one and who show off because of what they have summer we should empty them! Atmosphere! Atmosphere! Do I have a mouthful of atmosphere? Since that’s it, go alone to La Varenne! Good fishing and good atmosphere!
This line has been permanently inscribed in popular culture, thanks to the particular intonation of the actress Arletty, an absolute symbol of Parisian banter. Jeanson later explained to Bertrand Tavernier that he had written this line as a kind of friendly and ironic little pike towards Marcel Carné, who, on the set, often explained to these different collaborators: “It will give some atmosphere” or “It will enrich the atmosphere”.
An excerpt worth more than a long speech …
A mythical hotel … and threatened
Opened in 1912, the Hôtel du Nord is obviously one of the main characters in Carné’s film. At the turn of the century, it attracted a popular clientele of lock keepers, workers and the unemployed who rented their rooms by the week.
The film did a lot for the reputation of the establishment, even though the interior scenes were shot in the studio. Yet despite its notoriety, this picturesque hotel in the Paris of yesteryear has deteriorated greatly over the years. So much so that it was threatened with demolition on several occasions, before its facade was finally classified in the inventory of historical monuments in 1989.
If several owners have succeeded since, as in 1995 when James Arch, former assistant of Carné, transformed the establishment into a restaurant (still the case today), the facade remains fortunately unchanged, for eternity. Or almost.