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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When France was liberated from the German occupation, some crew and cast members of the film were suspended from working in the film industry because they had worked for Continental Films, a German company: actor Noël Roquevert was suspended for 3 months, production designer Andrej Andrejew for 9 months, actress Micheline Francey for a year, and the director Henri-Georges Clouzot for two years. See more »
Although I pride myself on my knowledge of fine films, I must admit with a trace of embarrassment that I had never heard of this film before yesterday, when a brief blurb on the Turner Classic Movies schedule prompted me to watch it. My principal motivation for watching it was that it was directed by Clouzot, whose "Diabolique" and "Wages of Fear" are favorites of mine. What a find! While not quite the equal of "Diabolique," it comes very close, and it is the equal of anything by Hitchcock. Viewed simply as a thriller, it is marvelous, but it is much more than that. It is a profound character study and a howl of rage at the small-mindedness and pettiness of small town bourgeois communities. Considering that it was made during the German occupation, it can also be viewed as about as scathing a critique of Gestapo methods as a director could be expected to make without risking his life.
After I saw "The Sorrow and The Pity" in 1971, I held the belief that any French artist who continued to work during the occupation was a legitimate target for criticism. Since then I have moderated this view somewhat. After all, who among us can honestly say what we would do in a similar situation? While there is no excuse for collaboration, can an artist be criticized for staying in his country and making a protest in the only way he can? I think that is what Clouzot did here, and the result is a masterwork. I only wish this were more widely known and publicized. 10/10
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