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Six friends promise to share their fortune in 5 years. The moment is very close, but one of the six is mysteriously murdered, then another... Superintendent Wenceslas Woroboyioetschik (aka Wens) is in charge of the investigation... Written by
Policeman Pierre Fresnay pursues a multiple murder case
"The Last One of the Six" is a 1941 French murder mystery, written by Henri-Georges Clouzot, directed by Georges Lacombe, and filmed by Robert Lefebvre.
Although the film overall is not a film noir, in my opinion, or at best a marginal noir story, the cinematography is thoroughly film noir all the way, and often stunningly so. The opening sequence, which is an interior, is done entirely in a relatively dark and shadowed way and with the clarity of deep focus. Later interiors and exteriors often are done similarly to good effect. There is a chase scene at the end done in a dark quarry, for example. Film noir enthusiasts will probably enjoy the combination of mystery and photography, and some may judge this to be an early example of noir.
The story starts with six men who are fast friends and who contract to go their separate ways for 5 years, subsequently to share their fortunes or misfortunes. Five years pass, and one is notably successful as a theater owner and director. Much of the action centers on him and his theater, and there is a long dancing and gun-shooting act combination that is quite entertaining and nicely staged, a la Busby Berkeley.
One of the six decides to turn their contract into a kind of tontine, by killing the others and raising his take.
I was able to keep track of 3 or 4 of the 6, but I confess that my powers of observation are waning. To me it seemed that several of them look alike and do not have that much screen time. This should dissuade no one from watching. It adds to the fun. A second viewing beckons.
The action, it seemed to me, proceeded in fits and starts. It would speed up and then, unaccountably, go off into fairly long diversions, so that any tension evaporated. The story didn't have good continuity. Suzy Delair's part was evidently amplified, and she played an annoying girl friend of Fresnay. There actually didn't seem to be any real romantic sparks between any couples on screen. The Fresnay detective character was filled out somewhat but not fully enough, so that it was difficult to identify with anyone. Besides he seemed henpecked.
I wanted to like this one more than I did overall, but it has some good parts to it. The mystery also held up well until the end, although the loose ends were tied up rather glibly. The production values are high in this movie. There are nice sets and very good photography.
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