Henri-Georges Clouzot, France 1942 84 minutes PG Low level violence
Henri-Georges Clouzot's directorial debut has been widely overlooked in favour of its immediate successor Le Corbeau (1943) and the masterpieces that followed. True, it's more of a jolly comedy-thriller than the grimly protracted suspensers with which Clouzot made his lasting reputation, but it unmistakably foreshadows his later work, with even the jokier moments undercut by a bitter and all too characteristic misanthropy... Although Clouzot relocated the action in Stanislas-André Steeman's source novel from late-1930s London to early-1940s Paris, there's no onscreen mention of the Nazi occupation of France — but there are many nods towards its day-to-day reality, specifically the notion of death coming out of the blue and the hopelessness of the French authorities in preventing it. While the big climactic reveal won't be spoiled here, it too has a specific satirical thrust that's hard to miss. The film is startlingly racy compared with its buttoned-up English-language counterparts, not just in its innuendo-charged dialogue but also its overall sexual frankness.
- Michael Brooke, Sight & Sound, May 2013.