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Are you alone? good. Have you turned off the lights? good.Is there a storm brewing in that dark foreboding sky?Excellent. Do you like brilliant black and white movies? Wonderful.Now, sit back and enjoy the best of the best. This is quite simply the best psychological thriller ever made.Often imitated but never bettered. If you have a problem with subtitled films then don't worry because you will understand this film without reading them. If you want slash and gore, go elsewhere.If you want sophisticated entertainment,you've come to the right place.Georges Cluzot's finest work is a thing of beauty as is his wife Vera, who stars opposite Simone Signoret as the schoolmaster's wife.From the very start it is very clear that all is not as it seems. But why? and who? What is the terrible secret of the swimming pool and later on, the bathtub? As the tension builds to an unbearable climax, we sit and hide behind our hands, peering through the gaps in our fingers.Oh my God!! it can't be!.....it is! Do not confuse this movie with the disgraceful remake starring Sharon Stone. All copies of that disaster should be burned. Watch this movie if you are a serious film buff. Rent something else if you have the attention span of a goldfish.Brilliant. 10/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Hitchcock must have forever wondered how he managed to allow this story
to slip out of his hands, but the fact remains: had he filmed CELLE QUI
N'ETAIT PAS into his own version of what is known as LES DIABOLIQUES,
there very well might not have been a VERTIGO, also an adaptation from
the authors of the aforementioned one and D'ENTRE LES MORTES. All in
all, this is an excellent horror film that has strong Film Noir
overtones and precedes New Wave by a couple of years and its simple yet
powerful direction by Jean Georges-Clouzot elevates it from a standard
thriller to one to which all others are measured spawning countless
imitations with much less satisfying degree. One wonders what treatment
Hitchcock would have given it, and interestingly, it's all here: the
almost casual presentation of spousal abuse that occurs off-camera in
one chilling scene early on, the events that lead the women (Vera
Clouzot and Simone Signoret) to make a drastic decision concerning
killing Clouzot's husband (Michel DelaSalle), and then the growing,
deadly certainty he may not be quite dead after all... and may be after
the terrified women. The last 15 minutes are one of the most
tension-inducing I've ever seen in any climactic montage (even if it
does veer into a certain implausibility but the intent is to tell a
suspense story and Hitchcock has often mentioned the "suspension of
disbelief" factor) and have long gone into history as one of the most
horrific moments in cinema.
To those interested in watching LES DIABOLIQUES, please do NOT watch its American remake, DIABOLIQUE, with Sharon Stone and Isabelle Adjani. It pays to read the subtitles in this film.
Les Diaboliques is one of the tightest, pure suspense movies I have ever
seen. The story starts out slowly, but as it moves on, peculiar things
start to happen. This movie keeps you guessing in such a way, you are
riveted to your seat, hoping for a quick resolution to the suspense. Yet,
as the story unfolds, the suspense deepens. The final scene of the movie
had me sitting back holding my breath.
This movie does not offer cheap, pop out and scare you tactics. Rather, it makes the viewer expect things to happen that don't. You wait on the edge of your seat for the quick jump out and scare you event to take place, but instead, it sneaks up from behind you. What an effect!
Les Diaboliques is a classic film that delivers the complete suspense package. It's not surprising that many suspense movies of the modern era have tried to copy the plot. This movie is well worth renting in a video store, if you can find it.
This is not a legend : after reading Pierre Boileau's novel, Alfred Hitchcock phone the editor in the morning to buy the story for making a film. But another great master, Henri-Georges Clouzot, had phone 30 minutes earlier. Mister Hitchcock was angry! But Hitch couldn't have done better than Clouzot. This is P-E-R-F-E-C-T! The black and white, the dialogues, the acting and even the reclusive French scool of the 1950's. And for the suspense... well every viewer of IMDB had said the same things I could said. So, Diaboliques is the best suspense thriller of all time, and also one of the best movie ever made. Please, I really said please, don't ever watch the remake with Isabelle Adjani and Sharon Stone. There are certains movies that you can't make two times. Like all the Hitchcock and Clouzot films, for example...
"Les Diaboliques" has one of the best plots you will ever find in any
mystery or suspense thriller. The excellent directing, acting, and writing
combine with the story itself to make it a memorable experience.
If you enjoy quality mysteries or thrillers, you will almost certainly enjoy this one - and if you have not seen it yet, you might just want to buy or rent it now, before you read any more reviews. This comment will avoid any discussion at all of the actual plot itself, because the less you know in advance, the more you will enjoy it. The few implausible elements in the story do not detract at all from the enjoyment.
A great plot does not all by itself make a good movie, and everything works especially well here because of the expert pacing by director Henri-Georges Clouzot and good, mostly understated acting by the main actors. We are drawn into their world very nicely. Everything about the characters and events is built up perfectly, to give the brilliant climax its full effect. Once again, see it before you find out any more.
Even if you do not normally watch black-and-white films or foreign movies (this is in French), if you enjoy thrillers, watch "Les Diaboliques" as soon as you have the chance.
Another terrific suspense film from Henri-Georges Clouzot, Les
Diaboliques (also known as "Diabolique") is a tense story of murder,
suspicion and revenge. The plot revolves around two women, Christina
(Vera Clouzot) and Nicole (Simone Signoret) who conspire to murder the
brutish man who is Christina's husband and Nicole's lover Michel,
played by the delightfully sullen Paul Meurisse. He is the principal of
a boarding school for boys who relies on Vera's money to support his
excesses, and the two women are both teachers at the school.
Vera has her doubts about committing murder, even though Michel is incredibly abusive. But Nicole convinces her to help drug and then drown Michel. All seems to be going well until Michels body goes missing and the two women turn against each other. The situation is complicated further by the appearance of a retired police inspector who is determined to help Vera find her "missing" husband, despite the poor woman's protests. The tension continues to mount until the hair-raising climax.
This movie is on a par with some of Hitchcock's best work, although Clouzot doesn't mix much humor in with the suspense, as Hitch often did. However, Vera's interaction with the droll inspector does provides some chuckles. Unlike his previous film, The Wages Of Fear, Clouzot doesn't spend a whole lot of time on the set-up of the plot, but gets right to the meat of the matter, and from there Diabolique rolls along very quickly with barely a letup in the action.
I can't believe it took me so long to see this masterpiece. Highly recommended.
Scare the crap out of you!
I don't hand out many 10s. Some movies don't really require much thought or analysis. In the end all that matters is what happened to you when you first saw it.
I remember when I first saw this. Nothing scary at first, but the nastiness of the place and the people is effortlessly shown. And then the bad stuff starts to happen.
I remember, though it must have been forty years ago, the climactic scenes with my neck hairs standing up, sweat on my face, clutching the theater armrests like I was in danger of falling, and finally realizing I was weeping- not tears of sadness, tears of helpless terror.
I envy anyone seeing this for the first time.
Les diaboliques is an unusually intense movie. I believe this is due to the
well thought out choice of real locations and the masterful use of spatial
entities and textures. Your memory really gets hooked on those things, and
it gives the story a sense of reality that makes you feel uneasy.
Les diaboliques is as much a horror movie as it is a thriller. When I watch this I perceive an intense mouldy smell throughout. The crumbling boarding school where the main characters live and act is worse than any nightmare even the swimming pool filled with murky water appears like a menacing abyss. The stifling crummyness is accentuated by the plot: School teachers sit at the sadistic principal's table in the refectory and have to force unspeakably ghastly meals down their throats (only one glass of wine is allowed). The second location is the principal's lover's apartment in a dead borough somewhere in no man's land. It's stuffy and utterly claustrophobic. The transfer between the two places is made with a "deux chevaux" station wagon its characteristic back part of corrugated sheet metal once was a common feature in our parts of the world, as was the snarling sound of the deux chevauxs engine. In the corrugated iron "box" sits a creaky wicker crate, which on the way back from the lover's apartment contains evidence of the crime, wrapped in a checkered wax tablecloth. So you see shells within shells, not unlike one of those Russian wooden dolls. You don't know what you will find in the innermost until the end.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Clouzot is possibly the cinema's most devout pessimist: no other
director has portrayed human vices so persuasively
If his bitter
vision of the world is finally limited and unattractive, his status as
a major filmmaker, entertaining through suspense while simultaneously
expressing his private dismay with cool and detached visual precision,
"Les Diaboliques" is a mystery set in a shabby boys' boarding school The plot a sadistic headmaster is murdered by his wife and his mistress; ominously and inexplicably, his corpse vanishes is too contrived to survive repeated viewings, but the stark gray images emphasizing physical decay offer a precise, grimly poetic visual correlative for the characters' warped emotions
Clouzot's moral pessimism, shock tactics and readiness to display man's worst excesses suggest parallels with Hitchcock and Fuller, while his focus on cruelty, domination and decay may be compared with that of figures as diverse as Leone, Blier and Fassbinder
Set in a French boarding school for boys, "Les Diaboliques" tells the
story of two teachers, Christina (played by Vera Clouzot), and Nicole
(played by Simone Signoret), who conspire to kill the sadistic
headmaster, a man who also happens to be Christina's abusive husband.
Like most murder mysteries, the story is highly improbable; nevertheless, the film is still hugely entertaining, thanks in part to plot twists and turns that even Agatha Christie would admire, and to the film's B&W lighting, that renders a noirish, sinister atmosphere.
The first half is interesting and tightly plotted. But the real strength of the film's underlying premise begins at the mid-point plot turn. The second half is riveting, because the tight plot begins to ooze with mystery and suspense. It builds to a final ten minutes that are as frightening as almost any ending in film history; dark interiors, shadows, ominous light at the end of a long hallway, a general absence of sound, a gloved hand, a scream, and an unexpected image. It's the very definition of spine-tingling suspense.
There is a clue to help solve the story's mystery in the film's first ten minutes; but like any good mystery, that clue is very subtle. All the film's acting is excellent, even down to the children actors. And, Simone Signoret is as wonderful here as she is in all of her other movies.
English subtitles require a little more work for viewers who cannot understand the French dialogue; yet, the story, the acting, and the cinematography should more than offset this minor irritation. Background music occurs only during the film's title sequence and closing credits; this general absence of music thus enhances suspense.
Although not strictly speaking a whodunit, "Les Diaboliques" is a classic murder mystery that has earned a well-deserved reputation for setting the standard for cinematic suspense. The story is riveting, and the film is technically well made. More recent films have tried to copy it; but this is the original.
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