My favourite of three was Marius. It has the best plot and is wonderfully shot. The film has a real sense of place and feels like it exists in a living breathing environment. Fanny slackens a little in this regard, but was still my second of the trilogy. Raimu and Charpin carry the film wonderfully. I would watch these two interact all day. I'll probably vote for both of these in the 1930s ballot. Going back to the TV analogy, however, César feels somewhat like a one-off special to reunite the cast due to the success of the previous movies, and I wasn’t surprised to learn that is was purposely written later for the screen as opposed to being a play first. It’s not a bad film by any means, and I enjoyed the hours I spent with it, but I much prefer
One thing not mentioned about the cuts above is that Pagnol in the extras talks about having cut the card playing scene himself on Marius as he didn't like the scene, so it wouldn't at all surprise me if he made cuts elsewhere such as in César, but we simply don't see him interviewed about those.
Regardless, this is one of the best boxsets that I ever bought, and this is why Criterion should exist. Highly recommended anyone buying it or even importing it.
Pagnol says in the extras on Fanny that Korda handled all the technical direction on Marius as he didn’t have a clue how to make a film, but he directed the actors and the dialogue. They got on very well it seems and were happy to work together. Interestingly, Pagnol was often off set as he was more interested in hearing the quality of how the dialogue and sound was being record, rather than watching the visual acting.
His grandson being interviewed on the disc for Marius states that he and Allégret butted heads during the making of Fanny as he did not expect Pagnol to be hands on with the cast and envisioned clear director and producer roles.