Dapper Inspector Vorobechik ('Wens' for short) is assigned the case of a serial killer who leaves a calling card on his victims; Monsieur Durand. Wens' mistress, struggling actress Mila Malou, determines to get publicity for herself by helping him. Learning that Durand is one of the eccentric tenants of a boarding house at No. 21 Avenue Junot, Wens takes a room in the guise of a Protestant minister; only to be followed by Mila who hardly seems like a minister's wife! Suspects are arrested, but while each is in jail, there's another murder... Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In 1941,Georges Lacombe made "le dernier des six",adapted from a Stanislas André Steeman book.Clouzot wrote the script,and introduced his girlfriend Suzy Delair (Mila Malou, a character whom he created from start to finish,Steeman's sleuth M.Wens was a bachelor).
So here we are again:a new Steeman detective story (probably his masterpiece),Fresnay as the sleuth,and Delair a pain in the neck of a singer.(She had begun to "launch " her " career" of chanteuse in "le dernier des six";I recommend this earlier work to all these who enjoyed the 1942 movie)Steeman did not like the adaptation.The couple Delair/FResnay was not his cup of tea,and anyway,like Hercule Poirot doesn't investigate in "and then there were none",M.Wens (therefore Mila Malou,Clouzot's invention)is absent from the novel "l'assassin habite au 21".But what infuriated Steeman,twas mainly that his story was set in London,and Clouzot (German Occupation) was compelled to film in Paris.
What's the matter?Clouzot's first opus,is a gem,one of these mysteries with the ending you'll never guess.Agatha Christie's fans will relish watching that!Shall I give a clue ?Mathematically,it's a ternary notation.Computers,you can forget it!For the rest,my lips are sealed.
All Clouzot's work ,all that he will brilliantly develop in subsequent works is already here :a rotten microcosm (the boarding-house with a lot of wicked old people predates the school in "les diaboliques" and the small town in "le corbeau".His sarcastic humor shines here there and everywhere.He asserts his extraordinary skills by detailing the supporting characters.Of course a diabolical suspense (and admire the elegance of Clouzot's style,when Fresnay/Wens finds out what's been going on.)
In a nutshell,a serial killer is rampant in town:they discover his address.Alas it's a boarding-house!So whodunit?Sometimes I wonder whether this charming thriller might not be superior to the renowned "le corbeau" which was released the following year.With it,a director who influenced countless ones was born.
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