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Quite simply put, this is one of the best movies ever made. Im not a
film expert and i don't know all the fancy terms or technical jargon,
I've never taken a film appreciation class or gone to a movie premier.
But with this movie, none of that really matters. When i watch movies,
very rarely do any emotions manifest themselves physically, and never
from horror films. This was different. I was more horrified, disturbed,
and awe stricken by this than any other movie. Goosebumps, raised hair,
at the climax i actually had to get up and walk around. I was
absolutely astounded that a movie could affect me that way. I found
this movie interesting from the beginning definition of "les
diaboliques" as "little devils," up until the ending. The ending. That
fantastically astounding, genius, breathtaking, work of art ending.
Whats surprising about this film is the quality of the (special) effects for 1955. If it was made again today there is not one thing i would change about it. Great acting, writing, directing, lighting, scenery, you name it. I love Hitchcock but even his movies have not managed to thrill me like this has, and when i think of Hitchcock i think old, classic movies. This is not a classic, it is timeless, untouched by the gimmicky film effects of the time.
You don't have to like old movies to like this. You don't have to like black and whites, or foreigns. You don't have to like reading subtitles. If you like movies, if you watch movies, you will like this one.
If it sounds like I'm trying to get you to watch this, its because i am. I have been using IMDb for years, and this is the first review I've ever written. I love this movie so much i felt obligated to review it in hopes to influence at least one person to experience it. This is hands down the best movie I've ever rented. If you watch it, do so alone, and in the dark.
Les Diaboliques is pure brilliance. Rarely have I ever been so tense in
my life. This film is definitely one that must be watched alone and in
the dark. It's chilling, especially due to the brilliant cinematography
and the beautiful black and white which makes the film extra eerie.
Although some of the acting could be a tad overdone, there really isn't
anything to complain about in that department.
The story is about a Headmaster, Delasalle (Paul Meurisse) and his wife (Vera Clouzot) and mistress (Simone Signoret) looking for a way out of his tyranny. So they both create a plot to murder him.
This isn't the type of thriller that involves things jumping out at you followed by loud bangs of music. This is all about the unexpected. There are scenes where I was holding my breath and clenching the couch in nervous tension. When nothing seemed to happen I felt relived, then I saw something and it hit me and scared the hell out of me. And nothing will prepare anyone for the shocker of an ending. I was literally blown away, it was huge and extremely scary.
The very best really artistic horror film ever. I saw Diabolique on a double date at the Larkin Theatre on a rainy night in San Franciso in '55, while I was at Cal Berkeley. We got into the lobby just before the showing ended. It was the last film I ever saw (if not the last ever) where the ushers (remember them?) enforced a "no one will be seated 15 minutes before the end" rule (in those days you could go in at any time). I remember hearing the screams from the audience from behind the closed doors, and their shaken looks when they exited. Actually, when we were seeing it, about 15 minutes before the end our dates were seated in our laps! Which was great. The only thing was I couldn't go into the bathroom at my dorm alone for the next week. Then, in 1960, to make it worse, Psycho was released, and I couldn't take a shower for a long time. I played Diabolique for my three kids on a Halloween (about 30 years later) and I don't have to tell you what happened. Then Jaws came along . . . If you haven't seen Diabolique, you are in for a real treat, and a really classy scare. See it alone with someone you love (or whatever). The Old Blue Buff.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
- I've seen Les Diaboliques with its very high rating on IMDb for a few
years. But I thought to myself, it can't be that good - it's French. I
finally gave it a chance. How wrong was I? I've never been more happy
with a blind purchase in my life.
- Michel Delasalle (Paul Meurisse) is the headmaster of an all-boys school. He's an abusive person to both his wife (Vera Clouzot - the director's wife) and his mistress (Simone Signoret) - both of whom work at the school. The wife and mistress decide they can't take it anymore and hatch a plot to kill Michel. The plan is carried out and the body is placed where it can be found. The problem is no one finds the body. It's gone. Things turn from bad to worse (and more horrifying) when students begin reporting that they have seen Michel roaming through the school. Any more of the story would be far too much.
- I do my best not to rate a movie 10/10 after a first viewing. But every once in a while, I stumble upon a real classic that I can't help but call perfect. The acting is very impressive, especially Vera Clouzot as the fragile wife. I felt every emotion she expressed. The plot is fantastic. Even though I figured out what was going to happen, it didn't matter. The movie is so well written that it was just a joy to watch it unfold. The sets are about the best I've seen. Everything looked just as I would expect from a French movie made so close to end of the war. Nothing was changed to make things look "pretty". It's dirty and it works. I could go on and on like this, but you get the idea.
- Clouzot has been called the "French Hitchcock" and it's easy to see why. He handles a movie with Hitchcockian type themes as well as Hitchcock might have himself. His decision to allow the movie the time necessary to build atmosphere and to allow the audience to get to know the characters is something I find sorely missing in many of today's movies.
- I highly recommend this one.
Les Diabloiques is perhaps the finest of the film noir genre. Simone
Signoret is best remembered for her femme fatale role in this stylish,
suspenseful film. Henri-Georges Clouzot beat out none other than Alfred
Hitchcock for the rights to the novel from which Les Diaboliques was adapted
(by Clouzot). Hitchcock could scarcely have done better with the
Above all, however, I would urge people to see this original version and NOT the 1996 American remake with Sharon Stone taking on Signoret's role. If you have seen the remake but not the original, please go back and see how good this film was with Clouzot's masterful script and direction and shot in glorious black & white. A comparison of the two provides a wonderful illustration of how the script, while certainly of great importance, is not the final determining factor on how a film turns out. Direction and acting make all the difference here.
Henri-Georges Clouzot is one of my favorite French directors. He imbued his films with an atmosphere that is his trademark. See also: le Corbeau (The Raven) and Le salaire de la peur (Wage of Fear). This film is such an incredible suspense thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat till the very end. When there is such talent and perfection in a film the first time around, why bother ruining it years later with a remake?
This has to be my all time favorite thriller. It starts off at a slow, careful pace, building tension slowly, then becomes intriguing and exciting, then grows to be genuinely chilling, right up to a climax that's both shocking and completely unpredictable. It's among my favorite movies ever made, certainly my favorite thriller ever made. 10/10.
Based on the Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac novel CELLE QUI N'ETAIT
PLUS, Henri-Georges Clouzot's 1955 DIABOLIQUE is easily among the most
influential films of world cinema, leaving its mark on everything from
Alfred Hitchcock's VERTIGO and PSYCHO to William Castle's THE
TINGLER--but even so, and while Hitchcock's masterpieces can be said to
at least equal the Clouzot original, few if any of the films spawned by
DIABOLIQUE ever bested it.
Variously known as DIABOLIQUE, LES DIABOLIQUES, and THE DEVILS, the film presents a complex story. Christina Delasalle (Vera Clouzot, wife of director Henri-Georges Clouzot), is a remarkably beautiful and considerably wealthy woman who has the misfortune to suffer from delicate health, personal timidity, and brutish husband Michel (Paul Meurisse.) The two operate a boys' school that Christina owns, and among the teachers is hard-nosed Nicole Horner (Simone Signoret), who has become Michel's mistress but who finds Michel every bit as unpleasant as wife Christina.
An unlikely alliance springs up between the two women, and together they conspire to murder Michel and thereafter run the school for themselves. But although the murder seems to go as planned, the body goes missing, and the two women suddenly find themselves taunted by mysterious notes and strange happenings. Has Michel survived the attempt on his life? Or has the murder been discovered and the stage is being set for blackmail?
In the wake of DIABOLIQUE's international success, the story has been told in so many variations that many may consider the original has lost some of the shock value it possessed when it first debuted, but even so the film has much to offer. This is particularly true in terms of style and performances. Director Clouzot endows the film with a sense of visual decay and a near-documentary tone that merge to create one of the most chilling atmospheres ever captured on screen. While Signoret's performance of the angry mistress is the more widely celebrated, she is equaled by Vera Clouzot, who has the more complex role and whose performance must carry the weight of the film's most disturbing moments; together they create a truly remarkable synergy of the most lethal kind.
I have seen DIABOLIQUE in several different releases, and while the Criterion DVD is somewhat glitchy it is easily the best version available; one should avoid all other releases, particularly the truly atrocious release by Madacy. Strongly recommended, particularly to fans of internation cinema and classic suspense.
Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
I loved this movie so much! This is because I rarely have had a movie throw so many surprises and twists into the plot! Movies too often doing the conventional and expected is one of the reasons I like to watch a lot of foreign films and this one takes the cake! The film is a "noirish" suspense film about two women who want to kill the same man. One is the wife and the other is his mistress. They both meet and agree to kill him together! That alone makes this an interesting twist! What they exactly do and the twists that occur I don't want to discuss, as it would really ruin the movie! Just believe me that the acting, writing and directing couldn't be better and when it was over, I was more than satisfied!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Apparently Hitchcock tried to buy the rights for this film after
reading the book it is based off of, and as prestigious as Hitchcock
is, it's hard to imagine it would be any better than this.
The plot is rather simple. Two women, one in an abusive relationship, Christina Delasalle, and one who used to be with the same man, Nicole Horner, attempt to murder the abusive husband, Michel Delasalle. But these murderers aren't cold people, or at least Christina isn't, and if she was, then there would be no tension. Nicole on the other hand, is a bit more mysterious. She is separated from Christina by poles and many other environmental objects in the shots early in the film, but as it progresses Christina begins to trust her a bit more. And so do we. But strange occurrences begin to happen, and as the guilt and paranoia begins to nag at Christina, we begin to feel the same sense of paranoia. Subtle things will happen in this film just to throw you off, even for a second. Such as holding a shot for just a little too long, or switching to another unrelated group of people walking by. And when I say this film constantly keeps you guessing, I mean that. Just when you think you've figured out what's going on, it will send you down another long winding road quickly. Even after the film is practically over (after one of the most suspenseful and surprising endings of all time), the VERY last shot of the film ends on a rather ambiguous note.
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