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Crossroads Marseille
the movie"Killer"

Varian Fry            Mary Jayne Gold

 

Set in colorful Marseille right after France falls to the Nazis, Crossroads Marseille will be the true story of a beautiful American heiress who has to choose between her French gangster lover and her participation in the most successful, private American rescue operation of World War II.

Of course, she chooses her lover.

Mary Jayne GoldThe time: one year, from the summer of 1940 to the summer of 1941
—before America enters the war and before the Holocaust.
The place: Marseille—the real Casablanca and the main city and port of Vichy France.
The main characters:

MARY JAYNE GOLD—a beautiful heiress from the midwest (not Jewish).  She had been enjoying a high-living expatriate’s life in Paris in the ’30s—until the Nazis marched into the city.  She is going through Marseille on her way home, but ends up staying on for a year.

During that year in Marseille, Mary Jayne experiences the biggest highs and the biggest lows of her life, and is faced with the most difficult decisions that she would ever have to make.  She would later look back on this year as the one that gave her life meaning.  

Varian FryVARIAN FRY—a dapper, ornery intellectual from New York (not Jewish either).  He suddenly finds himself leading a band of Americans and others in rescuing 2,000 anti-Nazi artists, writers, intellectuals, scientists, and political refugees, spiriting them out of France before the collaborationist regime turns them over to the Nazis.

Many of the rescued are among the creative giants of Europe, but many more knock at the door, and Varian’s American Relief Center grapples with the anguish of deciding whom they’re going to help.  For Varian too, nothing later ever came together as it did in that one year.  It was long after he died—an obscure professor of Latin and Greek in a Connecticut prep school—that he became the only American honored as a Righteous Gentile by the State of Israel.  

Raymond Couraud“KILLER”—a handsome, volatile young Frenchman.  He got his nickname because he murders the English language.  When Mary Jayne falls in love with Killer, he is a dashing deserter from the Foreign Legion, on his way to England to fight for France’s liberation.

Mary Jayne sticks with Killer when instead, he turns into a minor gangster in Marseille’s vast underworld.  Her relationship with Killer increasingly conflicts with her work for Varian, and ultimately, she is compelled to choose between her lover and the rescue effort in which she has come to care passionately.  Of course, she chooses her lover, changing his life forever, and of course, he turns into a hero too.

Now that the world, once again, has a pressing need for authentic heroes, Crossroads Marseille will be the new--and the real--Casablanca.  Set against the backdrop of the refugee crisis that preceded the Holocaust,  this will be the story of the year when it all came together.

Mary Jayne Gold and Pierre Sauvageto be based on Crossroads Marseille 1940/Marseille Année 40, a memoir by Mary Jayne Gold
& And Crown Thy Good, an upcoming documentary by Pierre Sauvage
treatment and screenplay-in-progress available

All rights Pierre Sauvage and Chambon Foundation

left, the late Mary Jayne Gold with writer-producer Pierre Sauvage
Contact information

Sur Crossroads Marseille / Marseille Année 40 le film--en français


In 1997, the press carried the news of the death of Mary Jayne Gold, the American heiress who, in France in 1940-41, helped to rescue 2,000 artists and intellectuals and others from the Nazis and their French accomplices.  This historic and unique American rescue effort was based in Vichy France’s colorful port city of Marseille—then the real Casablanca.

The unlikely leader was a dapper, ornery 32 year-old New York intellectual who in 1996 became the only American recognized by the state of Israel as a "righteous among the nations." Varian Fry, along with a few other Americans who had also found their way to Marseille, set out to save a culture. Mary Jayne helped to subsidize and expand the operation and participated in it, notably taking on the task of obtaining the release of prisoners from France’s worst concentration camp.

But there was more to that year in Marseille for this "nice WASP girl from Evanston." She also had an affair with a young French gangster—and a parallel, conflicting life as a gangster’s moll.

"Marseille année 40" de Mary Jayne Gold"Crossroads Marseille 1940" by Mary Jayne Gold"I think that, tossed about in this way," she wrote in her memoirs, Crossroads Marseilles 1940, "I saw and understood more than if I had just been a nice girl hopelessly and hotly in love with her gangster lover, or a purposefully dedicated liberal, alone or bedded down with an equally fine-minded comrade."  The onetime French gangster, the late Raymond Couraud, ultimately turned into a hero.

All rights (including re-publication) to Mary Jayne Gold’s lively memoirs are currently available, as are dramatic rights to Pierre Sauvage’s upcoming documentary on the rescue effort, And Crown Thy Good.

The book was published in France in 2001 by Éditions Phébus under the title Marseille Année 40.  Esteemed author Edmonde Charles-Roux wrote the preface, with Pierre Sauvage providing an afterward.  French reviews were unanimously enthusiastic, and the book has gone into several printings.

Sauvage has a personal commitment to this movie: his parents were refugees in Marseille at that time, and sought help from the Fry Committee. Later, they found shelter in the Christian haven of Le Chambon, the subject of Sauvage’s widely acclaimed theatrical documentary Weapons of the Spirit.

Prior to her death, Mary Jayne Gold had served as a consultant to Pierre Sauvage for a movie to be based on her adventures in Marseille.  Crossroads Marseille is a movie whose time has come.


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© Copyright 2006. Chambon Foundation. All rights reserved.                    Revised: February 12, 2008