Henri-Georges Clouzot (“The Raven”/”The Wages of Fear”/”“Diabolique”) directs one of his lesser efforts and co-writes with Jean Ferry an adaptation of Abbe Prevost’s 18th century lusty classic French novel ‘Manon Lescaut.’ It’s updated to immediately after World War II France. It was shoddily made, the characters were sketchily drawn, the lead couple is unlikable, the screenplay was ridiculously inept and the novel’s bawdiness was compromised to make it more Hollywood safe, nevertheless Clouzot’s craftsmanship and style made an impression at the Venice Festival and it won Best Film in 1949. It did a good job capturing the sleazy atmosphere of the low-life underground scene in a post-war Paris. Continue reading
Eureka, Masters of Cinema wrote:
One of the most revered names in world cinema, Henri – Georges Clouzot, made a remarkably self – assured debut in 1942 with the deliciously droll thriller The Murderer Lives at 21 [L ‘ Assassin habite au 21].
A thief and killer stalks the streets of Paris, leaving a calling card from “Monsieur Durand” at the scene of each crime. But after a cache of these macabre identifications is discovered by a burglar in the boarding house at 21 Avenue Junot, Inspector Wenceslas Vorobechik (Pierre Fresnay) takes lodging at the infamous address in an undercover bid to solve the crime, with help from his struggling – actress girlfriend Mila (Suzy Delair).
Featuring audacious directorial touches, brilliant performances, and a daring tone that runs the gamut from light comedy to sinister noir, as well as a subtle portrait of tensions under Nazi occupation, this overlooked gem from the golden age of French cinema is presented in a beautiful new high – definition restoration. Continue reading
“When instinctive film artists have passed their chronological niche, they either parody themselves or set out for new fields of action at the risk of complete failure … Clouzot goes down swinging.” – Paul Schrader
Synopsis (MIFF 2015)
After a long career making gripping black-and-white thrillers such as Diabolique and Wages of Fear, Henri-Georges Clouzot changed tack completely in the 1960s, turning his hand instead to colourful avant-garde experimentation. His first project from that period, L’Enfer, was famously never completed; but in 1968, Clouzot managed to make one final film: La Prisonnière.
Bored with her mundane existence, an artist’s wife becomes involved with a gallery owner, whose sadomasochistic fantasies both attract and repel her. As their affair deepens, her grip on reality begins to falter, and the film climaxes with an extended dream sequence – a flurry of spellbindingly colourful psychedelia. Continue reading
Plot Synopsis by Hal Erickson:
Released shortly after Luciano Emmer’s documentary Picasso, H. G. Clouzot’s Le Mystère Picasso managed to attain better international bookings than the earlier film, largely on the strength of Clouzot’s worldwide hit Les Diaboliques. Like Emmer before him, Clouzot offers rare and precious glimpses of Pablo Picasso at work. The film traces two of the artist’s paintings, from inception to pencil sketch to final product. The director comes as close as humanly possible to defining the genius of Picasso within the parameters of the camera lens. Oddly, Le Mystère Picasso does not appear on many of the “official” lists of Clouzot’s films, even though it won a Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Continue reading
Roger Ebert @ Chicago SunTimes, Feb 17, 1995 wrote:
If it had accomplished nothing else, “Diabolique” would deserve our affection for two reasons: It contains the original of Peter Falk’s TV character Columbo, and it inspired one of the funniest stories in screen history. Henri-Georges Clouzot’s 1955 thriller, now re-released in a restored print, however, accomplishes much more, creating a diabolical double-reverse plot that keeps the audience guessing right up to the thoroughly implausible final scene.
The movie takes place in a French boys’ boarding school run by a headmaster who makes life there as unpleasant for the teachers as for the boys. Michael Delasalle (Paul Meurisse) is a sadist and a pinchpenny who serves the students rotten fish and slaps around his wife Christina (Vera Clouzot), even though the school really belongs to her.
Blacklisted for his daring “anti-French” masterpiece, Le corbeau, Henri-Georges Clouzot returned to cinema four years later with the 1947 crime fiction adaptation, Quai des Orfèvres. Set within the vibrant dance halls and crime corridors of 1940s Paris, Quai des Orfèvres follows ambitious performer Jenny Lamour (Suzy Delair), her covetous husband Maurice Martineau (Bernard Blier), and their devoted confidante Dora Monier (Simone Renant) as they attempt to cover one another’s tracks when a sexually orgreish high-society acquaintance is murdered. Enter Inspector Antoine (Louis Jouvet), whose seasoned instincts lead him down a circuitous path in this classic whodunit murder mystery. Continue reading
Plot summary from IMDB:
Dominique Marceau is on trial for the murder of Gilbert Tellier. The counsels duel relentlessly, elaborating explanations for why the pretty, idle and fickle girl killed the talented and ambitious conductor freshly graduated from the conservatory. Was it passion, vengeance, desperation, an accident? The acquaintances of Gilbert testify, as well as Dominique’s former lovers, and her sister, Annie, the studious violin player engaged to Gilbert. The evidence they give progressively paints a more finely-shaded picture of the personalities of Dominique and Gilbert, and of their relationship, than the eloquent and convincing justifications of the counsels. Continue reading