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It's a Georges Lacombe 's movie,but actually, it marks the birth of a
giant of the French cinema:Henri-George Clouzot.Here credited "Georges
Clouzot",he wrote the dialogue,and his wicked sarcastic humor
From Belgian Stanislas-André Steeman 's detective story "six hommes morts" (six dead men),it's really a very exciting thriller.Six friends go their separate ways during five years in order to make their fortune around the world.When they go back,some have succeeded,some have failed.But one of them covets the whole pile and is doing away with his former mates.To reveal more would be a real spoiler.Suffice to say there's a very good suspense sustained till the very end.
Not only Clouzot wrote the script,but he also provided the movie with a female star :his then-partner Suzy Delair.She portrays exasperating Mila Malou,detective Wens (Fresnay)'s girlfriend. The movie was a commercial success,and Clouzot became a director:his first movie was the wonderful "l'assassin habite au 21" (a must!a must!) which reunited Fresnay and Delair playing the same characters of another SA Steeman book.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The thirty one feature films produced by the German-run Continental Films between 1941-43 were a fairly mixed bag ranging from the two sub-standard Fernandel directed titles (Adrien, Simplet) to the wonderful Decoin-Darrieux Premiere Rendez-vous but luckily there was quite a bit of very good indeed stuff including the three titles in which Henri-George Clouzot had a hand. Here he provided only the screenplay - adapted from a novel by Stanislaus Andre Steeman - for Directes Georges Lacombe but the success of the film enabled him to direct not only a sequel (L'Assassin habite au 21) but the sometime notorious Le Corbeau, arguably the best-known of all the Continental titles. There's not a great deal new in the story of six friends who make a pact to go their separate ways for five years and then reunite and divvy up whatever fortunes they have made between them, nor would any seasoned thriller-reader/watcher be very surprised that one of them coveted the entire proceeds with the inevitable result that the remaining five started dropping like shares in Betamax after VHS won the rental war. There's a lot to admire here not least the teamwork between Pierre Fresnay's cop and his love interest Suzy Delair; Clouzot had clearly taken the Bill Powell-Myrna Loy relationship in the Thin Man series as a template and it is a great pity that the pairing petered out after two films. Definitely one to keep.
One of those excellent french films which were made initially to replace American movies whose import had been stopped by the Nazis, but still had a style of their own. Dandy actor Pierre Fresnay plays the part of the swift thinking, wisecracking police detective Monsieur Wens. The film also features lots of splendid actors of the 40's, such as Jean Tissier, with his irresistible drawl, as well as the suave André Luguet and young Suzy Delair who plays an extravagant girlfriend. It was adapted from a novel by belgian-born Stanislas-André Steeman, a prolific writer of detective stories with a touch of poetry, many of which were turned into atmospheric movies, such as "Quai des orfèvres" and "L'assassin habite au 21". The plot turns around six enterprising young friends who, having hit the jackpot, decide to divide it among themselves and set out to make fortune, each in his own particular way. They also make a youthful, romantic pact to meet again in five years time and share the fortune they hope to achieve. But when the time comes, they begin to be murdered one after the other The imagery tends towards film noir; the oppressive atmosphere in Nazi-occupied France lends itself ideally to the aesthetics of film noir ; the whole country seems to be perpetually at night, in shadows or in fog and the film climax takes place in a labyrinthian quarry. In contrast, the dialogues are often witty and amusing, for instance when Monsieur Wens has a drink with a suspect in one of those smoky, underworld parisian café with jazzy accordeon music playing in the background : the detective casually inquires over the little ruffian's alibi through a colourful discussion over how the latter makes a living at the races. The pacing of the film is good, except for a lenghty cabaret sequence which is a mixture of moulin rouge (with some nudity daring for the time) and surreal reverie.
"The Last One of the Six" is a 1941 French murder mystery, written by
Henri-Georges Clouzot, directed by Georges Lacombe, and filmed by
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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