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Le Corbeau: The Raven (1943)

Le corbeau (original title)
Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 28 September 1943 (France)
French village doctor becomes target of poison-pen letters sent to village leaders, accusing him of affairs and practicing abortion.

Director:

(as Henri Georges Clouzot)

Writers:

(scenario), (adaptation) (as Henri Georges Clouzot) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Denise Saillens
Micheline Francey ...
Laura Vorzet
Héléna Manson ...
Marie Corbin - l'infirmière
Jeanne Fusier-Gir ...
La mercière
...
La mère du cancéreux
Liliane Maigné ...
Rolande Saillens
Pierre Larquey ...
Michel Vorzet
Noël Roquevert ...
Saillens - la maître d'école
Bernard Lancret ...
Le substitut
...
Le docteur Delorme (as Antoine Balpétré)
...
Bonnevie - le trésorier de l'hôpital
Pierre Bertin ...
Le sous-préfet
Louis Seigner ...
Bertrand
Roger Blin ...
François - le cancéreux du 13
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Storyline

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 <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Une petite ville comme il en est tant en France. [Original Version] See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

28 September 1943 (France)  »

Also Known As:

The Raven  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Wide Range Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Quotes

[first lines]
Le docteur Rémy Germain: [washes blood off his arms] I saved the mother.
Grand-mother: And the baby?
Le docteur Rémy Germain: No.
See more »

Connections

Remade as The 13th Letter (1951) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The first of Clouzot's dark masterpieces
16 September 2004 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

Le Corbeau aka The Raven is a surprisingly vivid piece of film-making, a wonderfully cinematic dissection of a town torn apart by the poison-pen letters of 'The Raven.' The initial balance of power that maintains the status quo (A knows B's indiscretion, B knows A's, so neither can destroy the other without disgracing himself) is soon destroyed as the whole town learns each other's dirty linen, with suspicions, half-truths and outright lies soon lead to the town turning on each other in the search for a scapegoat. Tragedy, suicide and murder inevitably follow…

This, of course, was the film that earned Clouzot a lasting reputation as a collaborator – made for the infamous German Continental films, it was attacked by both the Nazis for discouraging the French from informing (their main source of information during the occupation) and the resistance for attacking the French moral character. Of the two, it's pretty obvious the Nazis were on the right track. Even though the Germans are conspicuous by their absence, it makes clear that the anonymous informer/s are undermining solidarity and making the town easy prey for predators (it is implicit in the film that the Raven is not the only poison-pen writer in the town as a veritable flock of Ravens emerge).

The suspense comes not from the Raven's identity, which is blindingly obvious in this era of double-endings but must have seemed groundbreaking at the time, but from what damage the Raven will do next. Blessed with a surprisingly unlikable hero and a frankness lacking in US and British films of the period – abortion and drug-addiction are discussed as readily as adultery and embezzlement – there is a somewhat awkward Catholic moral imposed at the end (the good doctor learns it is better to let a mother die in childbirth to save the child than vice versa because the future is more important than the past) but it's still refreshingly dark. The script establishes character, setting and guilty secrets with remarkable economy and the film is blessed with a great use of location and some visually impressive set pieces: the funeral where people step around a letter left by the Raven before a child picks it up or the huge church silenced by a single letter fluttering down from the gallery are particularly striking. It also has a biting black wit and an interesting discussion about the interdependent nature of good and evil.

A genuine masterpiece, and entertaining with it, the Criterion DVD boasts exceptionally good print quality - sharp and clear - with an interesting 18-minute interview with Bertran Tavernier on Continental and Clouzot and an interesting extract from a French documentary with Clouzot and others talking about the film and French cinema during the Nazi occupation.


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