Marie Galante (film)

Marie Galante is a 1934 American film directed by Henry King, starring Ketti Gallian and Spencer Tracy, adapted from a French novel by Jacques Deval. Later in the same year the novel was adapted into a French musical titled Marie Galante, with book and lyrics by Jacques Deval and music by Kurt Weill.

Marie Galante
Marie Galante FilmPoster.jpeg
DVD cover
Directed byHenry King
Produced byWinfield R. Sheehan (producer)
Written byJacques Deval (novel)
Reginald Berkeley (screenplay)
Dudley Nichols[citation needed] (uncredited)
StarringSee below
Music byArthur Lange
CinematographyJohn F. Seitz
Edited byHarold D. Schuster
Distributed byFox Film Corporation
Release date
October 26, 1934
Running time
88 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageFrench, English

The synopsis of the musical-play, is described by the Kurt Weill Foundation is as follows: "Marie is kidnapped and taken to Panama by a lecherous sea captain, who abandons her when she will not give in to his desires. She becomes a prostitute [merely a café singer in the film] in order to earn money to return to France; meanwhile, she is unwittingly involved in an espionage plot. She spends most of her money to care for a dying black man (Stepin Fetchit) whom no one else will tend to. When she does finally save enough money for a steamer fare, she is murdered by a spy who fears discovery the night before the boat sails."[1]



The New York Times' Andre Sennwald admired Ketti Gallian:

"Frail, lovely and very quietly over-whelming...a striking addition to the screen's gallery of high-powered ladies. The work in which she appears is an ambitious and interesting story of international intrigue which is better in intention than in actual achievement... (It) tells the strange tale of a stranded French girl who becomes the innocent central figure in a whirling confusion of sabotage and counter-espionage in the Panama Canal Zone. M. Deval's crimson heroine has become a virtuous and extraordinarily naïve girl in the film. Unintentionally shanghaied out of her French seacoast village by a drunken captain of a tramp steamer, Marie finds herself penniless and puzzled in a strange land. Fleeing the ship at Yucatan, she makes her way to the Canal Zone, hoping to find passage back to her native land. Her fantastic and pitiful story meets lifted eyebrows everywhere. To support herself she becomes a singer in a night club which is frequented by mysterious and sinister gentlemen of foreign tongue. Ingenuously she becomes involved with several international plotters, who promise to obtain homeward passage for her in return for certain information about the movements of the American fleet. An American agent (Tracy) who believes her story finally manages to expose a plot to blow up a power plant and disable the fleet. In conception and occasionally in execution this is an arresting melodrama, with a fresh and vivid approach to the materials of espionage. Unfortunately it suffers from several major flaws, which force the photoplay steadily into mediocrity after a fine beginning... Marie Galante asks its audiences to believe that a girl of presumably average intelligence can be the unwitting dupe of various rogues without once suspecting their intentions."[2]


According to the AFI Catalog, legal records reveal that after the American release of the film, "Jacques Deval, author of the novel, served notice on Fox's Paris office that the studio must not use his name in connection with the film on the ground that the story has been 'so thoroughly mutilated and changed that it is not "his work." Deval threatened to institute an injunction if the studio insisted on using his name."[3] The film-credits do cite Deval as the source of the story.



  1. ^
  2. ^ Sennwald, Andre (1934-11-21). "International Intrigue in the Canal Zone in M. Deval's "Marie Galante," at the Mayfair". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-03-20.
  3. ^ "AFI|Catalog". Retrieved 2020-03-20.

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