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Michel Ancelin is an alcoholic doctor: the more the people look down on him as a miserable failure the more he hates his own guts... until that night when, driving home and drunk, he accidentally kills a man. What if it was just the burst of pride his fine intelligence was waiting? Written by
This movie is proof positive that Michel Simon is one of the most prodigious actors in the whole world.As for Decoin,he's almost forgotten in France,which is a shame because some of his works equal those of his colleagues Duvivier and Clouzot.
Right from the start ,we know Doctor Ancelin(Simon) is the murderer:he's a mediocre man,the inhabitants of his small town regard him as a meek,good-but-not-too-smart guy.His partner (Holt) sleeps with the garage owner,his colleagues despise him as a barfly,he is ugly,fat ,in a nutshell,he holds a grudge against the entire community.And what a community!a journalist who rejoices when a murder is committed,(this journalist makes me think of Tatum -Kirk Douglas- in Wilder's "Big Carnival"),arrogant doctors whose main objective is social elevation,Ancelin's partner who wants to help the police just because there is a reward.This misanthropy evokes Clouzot's world.
At the wheel,Ancelin kills a man in an accident and gets away with it.Then he begins to think he could murder with impunity. Crime will provide him with the achievement he could not reach in his job or in his sentimental life.Some scenes will make your hair stand on end:after having killed her lover,Ancelin told his terrified partner that he had also planned her death,and he could easily have done away with her instead.A black cat,often shot in close-up,adds to the sometimes poesque atmosphere,and even this harmless animal will play a part in the astonishing ending.
Michel Simon gives a masterful performance,from a whisper to a scream,from logical reasoning to absolute madness.His longing to be acknowledged will not be fulfilled ,because of people's stupidity,because his crimes were too perfect,because of fate ,because of a black cat which crossed his path:the pitiful doctor will go to his grave an imbecile to the world.
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