The precedent movie "le Bienfaiteur" was a timid attempt at a society put down ."Les Inconnus dans la Maison" has two major assets:Raimu,one of the most prodigious the French cinema ever had and Henri-George Clouzot ,the future director of such gems as "diabolique" "le Corbeau" or "le Salaire de la Peur "(wages of fear).But it does not explain the success of this work.The whole town,the old house are wrapped in a strange poetry "someone is walking in the attic upstairs the heroine says -No,that must be this old creaking furniture".The first pictures display the saddest town in the world where the rain keeps falling down.
Raimu's performance is once more stunning:during one hour ,his part is completely subdued,because he plays a human wreck,who is on the booze all day long.A former lawyer,he called it quits when his wife left him;and now,he lives with his daughter whom he does not seem to love very much.Then he discovers a dead body in his house :the girl and her pack of youngsters are involved .But he acts as like he doesn't care.He agrees to defend the suspect,his daughter's boyfriend.
Raimu really plays Lazarus:after attending the first part of the trial in a complete indifference,uttering one word or two ,he rises from the dead and puts the teenagers'parents in the dock.Raimu's performance is really sublime and a lot of actors who intend to play a lawyer should have a look at "les inconnus dans la maison".
With this film,Decoin became a great film noir director -he will outdo himself in "non coupable" -In spite of a happy end ,the audience leaves the movie with a bitter taste in the mouth:the whole town is rotten,fathers and mothers have failed ,a subject which André Cayatte will resume in "avant le déluge" (1953).
In 1992,George Lautner redid "les inconnus dans la maison" with Jean-Paul Belmondo as the lead.But a remake is a remake ,and taking on a Raimu's part is pure suicide:besides,time had taken its toll and the screenplay which was original in 1942 became mundane fifty years later:the movie looked like some seventies qualité française movie,at a time when drug was the subject à la mode.
Another remake was made by Pierre Rouve ("Stranger in the house" )between Decoin's and Lautner's versions ,with James Mason as the lead in 1967.
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