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Catherine de Léan
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Burglar Jean Chevrier hides out in the country at a stone quarry
"L'assassin a peur la nuit" (1942) is a noir whose main character is a thief (Jean Chevrier) who works with another (Henri Guisol) on the job and with his woman (Mireille Balin) behind the scenes. She collects curios and associates with a shady antique dealer and fence (Jules Berry). The movie, as in Delannoy's "Gambling Hell" takes its time establishing the characters, but midway the noir orientation in story, character and staging becomes clear and maintains through the rest of the film. Much of the story occurs in a country setting, near a stone quarry, a hideout for Chevrier who is fleeing police pursuit. There he meets the innocent Louise Carletti, setting up a Balin-Chevrier-Carletti triangle. She was "Jasmine" in "Gambling Hell", and in one line mentions the jasmine flower.
The story is not really predictable despite some familiar plot elements. Although Chevrier tends to be impassive and not an animated actor, he still manages to create the required intensity and emotional charge that's needed for his leading role and the situations he faces. Carletti is much more lively. She has a larger role than Balin during most of the film's middle, but Balin has important and deeper scenes at the start and final third.
This film doesn't have the magic of a "Port of Shadows" (1938) or a Gabin-Morgan pairing, yet it proceeds on its own terms and the result is well worth seeing. Only 60 votes on the film and 2 user reviews so far. There are no critic reviews on IMDb. Presumably this reflects lack of accessibility, which is too bad because the quality of these old French noir films is high.
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