People who watch a lot of French films will relish the opening of this one: Behind the credits, in a noirish street, a woman is pacing back and forth and not unnaturally we think 'hooker' but not so fast, Inspecteur. With the credits out of the way we close in on the woman who is certainly not dressed like a hooker. It is, in fact, Simone Simon and as we watch she takes out a gun and as Pierre Brasseur leaves a nightclub named Le Petit Poucet (The Tiny Thumb) she puts a slug where it will do the most good, or it would have had it found its target. Instead she wings an innocent passerby, Petrus, a local photographer, played by Fernandel. This was 1946. Cut to 1949 and a second movie, Portrait d'un Assassin. We open in a noirish street and this time it's Pierre Brasseur with the gun and he's attempting to nail his wife, Arletty. Again the would-be assassin misses the target (Brasseur hit Maria Montez but alas, she survived to stink up the screen). Marcel Dalio was also in both films. Marc Allegret - and to a certain extent his kid brother Yves - is unjustly neglected today if not perhaps entirely forgotten. A great shame as he made some fine films - Fanny, Entree des Artitstes, Drole de dimanche - and some perhaps not so fine - immediately after Petrus he went to England and made Blanche Fury. Say no more. This, however, is an excellent effort with Fernandel more or less playing straight and another Simone (Sylvestre) adding sultriness. Dalio and Brasseur are top drawer and a good time is had by all.
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