FRANCE: Nostalgia and Nightmares

At first sight, Paris' latest hit movie seemed to be a Gallic version of That's Entertainment—a montage of vintage film clips showing France's late great stars performing on-screen and -stage, in music halls and cabarets. Youthful and jaunty, Maurice Chevalier delivered a cheerful rendition of Our Hope. Edith Piaf crooned / Danced with Love. Singer Mistinguett and Actor Fernandel garnered applause from ecstatic audiences.

The trouble was, as the film critic of the Paris daily Le Monde put it, the movie summoned up more nightmares than nostalgia. For, Chantons sous I'occupation (Let's Sing under the Occupation) was an 80-minute documentary...