Pierre Chenal

Pierre Chenal – Crime et châtiment aka Crime and Punishment (1935)

Pierre Blanchar plays the murderer Raskolnikov, and Harry Baur is the police inspector on his trail…

Quote:
Crime et châtiment is one of the overlooked masterpieces of 1930s French cinema, an early and almost faultless adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s celebrated 1866 novel Crime and Punishment. One of the reasons for the film’s comparative obscurity is that it was released in the same year as Josef von Sternberg’s better known American adaptation which starred Peter Lorre and Edward Arnold. The French version appears to have been heavily influenced by an earlier silent adaptation Raskolnikow (1923) from the renowned German filmmaker Robert Wiene, whose best-known work – Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari (1920) – is powerfully evoked in this film’s staging of the pivotal murder scene. Read More »

Pierre Chenal – La foire aux chimères aka Carnival of Illusions (1946)

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A word from an expert on the area: dbmonteil of the IMDb:

“La Foire aux chimères” is a jewel, a sparkling diamond. It would deserve one hundred comments, and that would not be enough.

Pierre Chenal was a film noir director who made moderately successful movies before the war: “L’Alibi” which featured von Stroheim too and his first version of “The Postman always rings twice “, “Le Dernier Tournant (1939). But the 1946 work is much superior, being at once a film noir, a baroque melodrama and a fairy tale.

Frank, a disfigured man (von Stroheim) meets at a fair a beautiful blind long-haired blonde Jeanne (Madeleine Sologne) who is a knives thrower’s partner; this man, Robert, has a lover, Clara. Jeanne marries the ugly man, undergoes an operation and recovers sight. But,as says Marilou, Frank’s housekeeper a proverb says “happiness is a misfortune you cannot see”. Read More »

Pierre Chenal – Le Dernier Tournant AKA The Last Turning (1939)

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Plot summary:

Frank, a vagabond, arrives at a service station on a mountain road near to Marseilles. The kindly old owner, Nick, offers him a job which he accepts. Frank is instantly attracted to Nick’s young wife, Cora, and they have a passionate affair. The two lovers plan to kill Nick so that they can profit from his life insurance. Having made Nick’s death look like an accident, they are acquitted of his murder. However, fate has a cruel twist in store… Read More »