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06 December 2014

La porteuse de pain (1934)

Today's film special is about a little known French drama, La porteuse de pain/The bread peddler (1934), directed by René Sti. Germaine Dermoz plays a woman who is unjustly condemned to hard labour for life for crimes she did not commit. The Belgian postcards for this tearjerker are all distributed by Cine Rex, a cinema in the Belgian city Ghent.

La porteuse de pain
Belgian postcard. Photo: publicity still for La porteuse de pain/The Bread Peddler (René Sti, 1934) with Germaine Dermoz as Jeanne Fortier and Jacques Grétillat as Jacques Garaud. Caption: "Forgive me my little girl... forgive me...". Collection: Didier Hanson.

La porteuse de pain
Belgian postcard. Photo: publicity still for La porteuse de pain/The Bread Peddler (René Sti, 1934) with Germaine Dermoz. Caption: "... My little horse....my little horse...". Collection: Didier Hanson.

La porteuse de pain
Belgian postcard. Photo: publicity still for La porteuse de pain/The Bread Peddler (René Sti, 1934). Caption: "Germaine Dermoz (Comédie Française) as Jeanne Fortier."

La porteuse de pain
Belgian postcard. Photo: publicity still for La porteuse de pain/The Bread Peddler (René Sti, 1934) with Germaine Dermoz as Jeanne. Caption: "Follow me Jeanne, soon I'll be rich". Collection: Didier Hanson.

Unjustly accused


The novel La porteuse de pain (The bread peddler) by Xavier de Montépin et Jules Dornay has been filmed several times. IMDb counts at least eight versions. The first was a silent short directed in 1906 by Louis Feuillade. The most recent adaptation was a TV mini-series by Marcel Camus in 1973.

They all tell the tragic story of Jeanne Fortier, unjustly accused of crimes committed by a culprit named Jacques Garaud. Jeanne is condemned to hard labour for life while Garaud, hides under another name.

Twenty years later, Jeanne escapes and becomes the bread peddler. After regaining her two children, she finally unmasks Garaud, who is arrested.

The postcards are for an early sound version, La porteuse de pain/The bread peddler (René Sti, 1934), in which Germaine Dermoz portrayed Jeanne and Jacques Grétillat was Garaud.
Dermoz was an actress of the renowned Comédie-Française, who had also acted in many silent films.

Other stars of the film are Simone Bourday, Mona Goya and Samson Fainsilber. Among the cast  is also a young Fernandel. It's a pity that we have no cards with him.

La porteuse de pain
Belgian postcard. Photo: publicity still for La porteuse de pain/The Bread Peddler (René Sti, 1934) with Germaine Dermoz as Jeanne. Caption: "Our father who art in heaven". Collection: Didier Hanson.

La porteuse de pain
Belgian postcard. Photo: publicity still for La porteuse de pain/The Bread Peddler (René Sti, 1934) with Jacques Grétillat. Caption: "If you don't go along, you will become again Jacques Garaud, understood!"

La porteuse de pain
Belgian postcard. Photo: publicity still for La porteuse de pain/The Bread Peddler (René Sti, 1934) with Germaine Dermoz. Caption: "Father, bless me". Collection: Didier Hanson.

Save the Rex!


All the postcards are Belgian: the captions are both in French and Dutch. Each card contains stamps that indicate that the film was shown in the Cine Rex in Gand (Ghent), Belgium and that children were admitted to the screening.

Cine Rex had just opened the year before, in 1933. It was designed by Belgian architect Geo Hendrick in Art Déco style.

Although the small but fine cinema closed its doors in 1982, the building still exists and is a monument now.

Activists and politicians try to save the Rex from decay and want to start a film museum in it.

EFSP supports this great idea: Save the Rex!

La porteuse de pain
Belgian postcard. Photo: publicity still for La porteuse de pain/The Bread Peddler (René Sti, 1934) with Germaine Dermoz. Caption: "Yes, father, I have another little girl who is placed out." Collection: Didier Hanson.

La porteuse de pain
Belgian postcard. Photo: publicity still for La porteuse de pain/The Bread Peddler (René Sti, 1934) with Germaine Dermoz on the left. Card for the Ghent cinema Rex. Caption: "Mother Lison, I am so lonely and unhappy, without a mother."

La porteuse de pain
Belgian postcard. Photo: publicity still for La porteuse de pain/The Bread Peddler (René Sti, 1934) with Jacques Grétillat as Garaud. Caption: "We arrest you, Jacques Garaud... murderer of Jules Labroue... the handcuffs..." Collection: Didier Hanson.

Sources: Gent Cement (Dutch), Wikipedia (French) and IMDb.

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