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A vicious series of poison-pen letters spreads rumours, suspicion and fear among the inhabitants of a small French town, and one after another, they turn on each other as their hidden secrets are unveiled - but the one secret that no-one can uncover is the identity of the letters' author... Written by
Michael Brooke <email@example.com>
It still amazes me that a film of this nature was made in 1943. It oozes with a grade of sensuality and vulgarity which would only resurface several years later in popular films of lesser qualities.
We have here a film project so compelling that Hitchcock himself lost the bid for its purchase by a few hours (according to online reports).
I can only imagine what sort of movie Hitchcock would have fashioned from its elements. But history sometimes lets fate decide the best outcomes in most interesting ways. I don't think this movie could have been made in the United States nor in the USA of latter days and have had produced such a fascinating delivery from cast, crew and director.
From its first frames in a cemetery to its final quiet scene down a village street, every shot conspires to bring one into the story.
The film is in French, which will not attract a certain segment of the film watching public. That is all well and good. Those who refuse to watch movies because they are in other languages deserve to be denied the pleasure of such masterworks as this film.
Every characterization is spun out with attention to the most intimate detail. To paraphrase another reviewer: every person in this town appears culpable and sinister -- even the children are depicted with their own brand of menace brewing and boiling ready to swoop down and seize control.
The cinematography has a more modern look and polish than just about any other film made during this time in film history. I admit there are scenes which display a brand of charming crustiness and provinciality which very few directors are able to reproduce today -- except of course for Woody Allen in "Zelig". Yet, they served their purpose for the telling of this story.
But all in all, there is a feeling of immediacy that may not have been captured by many films of this era. It is brazen and bold. Other words that comes to mind are: an honestly wild touch of realism.
All these add to the story in a most telling way which leads to the surprising denouement in a most curious and circuitous manner.
Banned in both France and Germany at the time. In retrospect, we can see why. We have here a film which must have shocked a great number of people. But today? Not so much...but none of the strengths are lost. All of its potency remains intact.
Le Corbeau is classic cinema which should be known more and recognized more - for its brilliance and power.
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