By Roger Ebert / January 16, 1969
Claude Chabrol’s “Les Biches” depends almost entirely on style, and as style it succeeds. He is not so much interested in his story as in how to tell it. He favors muted colors, mostly pastels, and many of his scenes are shot in the light of late afternoon.
His characters fit these colors and moods; they seem in a trance sometimes, moving slowly, speaking absently. And his camera movement is meticulously planned. We notice scenes where the camera and the actors move together in a sort of minuet. Three or four shots, using steps we don’t see or mirrors we don’t expect, have the grace of dance.
Chabrol is often considered the father of the French New Wave. He is known over here for “Les Cousins” (1959), “Les Bonnes Femmes” (1960) and last year’s “The Champagne Murders.” Unlike his colleagues in the New Wave (Godard, Truffaut, Resnais) he has steered away from politics and into a very smooth, almost ethereal directing style. “Les Biches,” a success at the 1968 New York Film Festival, ranks with his best work. Continue reading
Plot Synopsis by Sandra Brennan
In this drama based on a popular radio series, a millionaire believes he has six months left to live and so marries his nurse. She doesn’t love him, but he has promised to make her the sole heir to his fortune. She leaves her real fiancé for the ailing magnate with the promise that she will return a rich woman. After the wedding, they move to a lonely lighthouse where the woman finds herself falling in love with her husband after he miraculously recovers. Things are fine until the jealous, jilted fiancé comes to try and kill the millionaire. He ends up being killed by the husband who is sentenced to die in the electric chair. The woman is left to live alone in the lighthouse. Continue reading
Review from Time Out London:
An impressive directorial debut by ex-art director Shadi Abdelsalam, The Night of Counting the Years is an examination of cultural imperialism in reverse: instead of selling Coca-Cola to Egypt, Western merchants are stealing rarities from Egyptian tombs. At first posed in moral terms – should the new chief of an Egyptian tribe allow his people to earn money by selling the antiquities from ‘officially’ undiscovered tombs, or stop the trade at the cost of stopping the flow of money to his poverty-stricken people – the film develops into a study of the importance of defending the past from would-be cultural exploiters. Slow-moving but absorbing, and quite beautifully shot. Continue reading
Sarah Morton is a famous British mystery author. Tired of London and seeking inspiration for her new novel, she accepts an offer from her publisher John Bosload to stay at his home in Luberon, in the South of France. It is the off-season, and Sarah finds that the beautiful country locale and unhurried pace is just the tonic for her–until late one night, when John’s indolent and insouciant French daughter Julie unexpectedly arrives. Sarah’s prim and steely English reserve is jarred by Julie’s reckless, sexually charged lifestyle.
In Istanbul, a jazz trumpeter pulls the murdered body of a young woman from the surf. He remembers her from the night before, when he saw her at a millionaire playboy’s party and then later watched as she was assaulted by the party’s host and two of his friends. In confusion, Jimmy, the musician, leaves for Rio where he finds the sympathetic ear of Rita, a singer who invites him to live with her and helps him recover his equilibrium and his musical ability. Then, into the room walks a woman who looks like Wanda, the murder victim. Jimmy pursues her, not caring if she’s alive or dead. What’s going on? Continue reading
Director Raphaël Jacoulot’s dark and atmospheric mystery, set in an isolated high-Pyrenees hotel, has all the desired elements – precise and intelligent direction, excellent casting and a great plotline in the Chabrol-Simenon tradition.
The events, as they first unfold from an innocuous opening, quickly spiral downward for la famille Couvreur. One snowy evening, despotic hotel-owner Jacques Couvreur (Jean-Pierre Bacri) sends his incompetent son down into the valley to re-stock several cases of wine. The son collides with a pedestrian and for some reason the father decides to hide the truth and say nothing about the hit-and-run accident. A young trainee, Frédéric (Vincent Rottiers), just released from prison and re-starting his life, becomes implicated in this strange affair. Inspector Poncet (Sylvie Testud), in her endearing and off-putting Columbo-esque investigative style, strives to uncover the truth behind the discovery of the corpse. Continue reading
This Hildegarde Withers mystery concerns a woman found dead in Central Park. The police are about to rule it accidental, as it looks like she was thrown from her horse, when Hildegarde Withers discovers a clue that suggests foul play.
This is the fourth in a series of six Hildegarde Withers mysteries made in the 1930s and the first not to star Edna May Oliver. Helen Broderick plays the character here. Continue reading