A great clip from the 1938 feature film La Route Enchantée. Charles Trenet bears such an uncanny resemblance to Harpo Marx, one has to wonder if the look was intentional. Of course, Harpo never spoke on film, nevermind sing. Here Trenet, aka “Le Fou Chantant” sings the film’s title song.
“Chanson d’automne” (“Autumn Song”) is a poem by Paul Verlaine, one of the best known in the French language. It is included in Verlaine’s first collection, Poèmes saturniens, published in 1866 (see 1866 in poetry). The poem forms part of the “Paysages tristes” (“Sad landscapes”) section of the collection
Poem: “Chanson d’Automne” by Paul Verlaine
Charles Trenet “Verlaine”
The legendary French crooner Charles Trenet added music to Verlaine’s poem and recorded the song twice, first in the early 1940’s and again in the 1950s with a slower arrangement adding a string section. Here’s the original jazz version.
Word War II Resistance Code
The song’s lyrics include the line “les sanglots longues des violons de l’automne blessent mon coeur d’un langueur monotone” which translates as “the long sobs of the violins of autumn wound my heart with a monotonous languor”.
These words were used in 1944 to form the code phrases that alerted the Resistance to the Allied invasion of France, and were depicted in the earlier epic World War II movie The Longest Day (1962).