Chanson: The Screenplay (Two Characters)
The story of the French singer, Marcel. Broody, mysterious, rough and ready and from the wrong side of the tracks, he arrived in Paris in 1934 and was discovered singing in the streets by Gérard, one of Paris’s most eminent impresarios. The story opens with Marcel on stage in 1944. Paris is under the Nazi jackboot and Marcel is the star attraction at Levalle’s, the city’s most fashionable nightclub. He is tetchy towards Gérard for attempting to bring discipline into his life, and even more so towards Robert Lacomb, the impresario trying to poach him. We see him at home with his girl, Lucienne, and then visiting Connie, his mistress, who works for the Résistance. He visits a music-publishing office where he hears the famous singer, Fréhel, in rehearsal, learns her new song by heart, and steals it. The song is a great success, but soon afterwards, Gérard is murdered and Marcel’s world starts to fall apart. He leaves Lucienne, hits the bottle and while at his lowest ebb is picked up in the street by Jürgen, a young German lieutenant who has worshipped him from afar for some time. Marcel moves into Jürgen’s apartment. Initially, their relationship is platonic, but as time passes a deep bond of trust and love develops between the two men, as Marcel fights his demons to rebuild his shattered career, while both are terrified of what the Liberation might bring. Championed by the singer Suzy Solidor, Marcel starts again from scratch, but no sooner is he back on track than the Germans bomb his village, killing his entire family. He takes this out of Jürgen, and they fight and separate, though not for long. Reunited, and with Marcel promising to mend his ways, he and Jürgen are happy at last, but with the Liberation comes tragedy. Marcel finds Jürgen shot and bleeding in their bedsit in what seems an apparent suicide, attempts suicide himself, but is saved and his career re-launched by Robert Lacomb. What he does not know is that Jürgen was shot by Alice Dugas, the jealous girlfriend of an ex-lover, Kurt, who once was Jürgen’s lover, and that Jürgen is still alive, having been saved and spirited out of France by Connie, who has killed Alice. The story ends with Marcel giving a triumphant concert in Paris before travelling to London, where he and Jürgen are reunited.