French filmmaker Rene Clement's international reputation was secured with Au Dela des Grilles. A French-Italian production, the film sagaciously teamed the most popular stars of each nation: France's Jean Gabin and Italy's Isa Miranda. Gabin is cast as a murderer who escapes prosecution by stowing away on a ship. Suffering from a toothache, he disembarks in Italy in search of a dentist, only to have his few possessions stolen. This setback leads to an extended emotional interlude involving Gabin, a waitress (Miranda) and the waitress' daughter (Andrea Checchi). While keeping in line with the realistic nature of Clement's postwar films, Au Dela des Grilles harks back to the more lyrical style of his prewar efforts. Released in English-speaking countries as Behind the Barriers and The Walls of Malapaga, Au Dela des Grilles won the 1948 "Best Foreign Film" Academy Award, and also earned Clement the "Best Director" prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
by Hal Erickson synopsis