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Film / The Baker's Wife

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The Baker's Wife (La Femme du Boulanger) is a 1938 French film directed by Marcel Pagnol. It is based on a novel by Jean Giono.

The residents of a small village in Provence (South-East France) are happy when a new baker named Aimable Castanier (played by Raimu) moves in, as they had been forced to go far to get their bread before.

Then Aurélie (played by Ginette Leclerc), the baker's young wife, runs off with a shepherd, and the baker loses all interest in baking.


Provides examples of:

  • As the Good Book Says...: The vicar quotes the story of Jesus and the adulteress from The Gospel of John.
  • Comically Missing the Point: The baker doesn't pick up on the fact that the shepherd is flirting with his wife, thinking instead that he is complimenting his bread-baking skills.
  • Compartment Shot: Several from inside the baker's oven.
  • Cuckold Horns: Referenced several times throughout, both by the baker and the villagers. The latter prank the former by presenting him with a present which turns out to be gag gift consisting of a pair of horns.
  • Dirty Old Man: The marquis lives with his four, uh... "nieces".
  • Double Entendre: Some characters discuss the shepherd picking up a bread delivery from the baker's wife, though their choice of words is mostly thinly-veiled sexual innuendo.
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  • Double Meaning: After his wife has returned, the baker says that he forgives her, but then chews out their female cat for having left their male cat. His true meaning is not lost on his wife, who bursts into tears.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: The baker resorts to this after his wife runs off.
  • Fun with Foreign Languages:
    • The baker is surprisingly incompetent at identifying the language heard during the serenade scene. Is it Piemontese, Corsican, or Arabic? This guy lives in Provence, close to Italy, he should at least be able to tell a Romance language from Arabic. Especially absurd since someone not familiar with Piemontese would probably call it Italian.
    • Justified: as in most Pagnol films, most characters have a strong Provençal accent and non-standard grammar. They would be hard to understand for the average French man from most places (especially in the 2010s). May contribute to the "small village" feeling.
  • Gossipy Hens: The villagers are very prone to gossiping, men and women alike.
  • Holier Than Thou: The vicar gets on everybody's nerves with his condescending air of superiority.
  • Interrupted Suicide: The baker decides to hang himself, but the villagers stop him.
  • Secondary Character Title: To the extent that there is a main character, it's the baker.
  • Selective Obliviousness: The baker insists that his wife left to visit her mother, even when it's clear to everyone that she left to be with another man.
  • Serenade Your Lover: The shepherd sings a song to the baker's wife from below their window. The baker hears this but mistakes it for a serenade to his bread-baking.
  • Small Town Rivalry:
    • Two of the villagers have a dispute about their gardens – the elms in one garden keep the sun from reaching the other.
    • Two villagers refuse to speak to each other, but don't know why – they only know that their fathers and grandfathers weren't on speaking terms either, so they figure there must be a good reason.