Inspector Maigret is traveling to the French countryside to visit his friend, the duchess of Saint-Fiacre. She has received a letter recently stating that she will die soon. A few days ... See full summary »
"Le Dabe" retired many years ago and now he lives in the Tropics where he owns stables and horses. He is a very rich man. He was the king of all money counterfeiters. He is contacted from ... See full summary »
Six months before his retirement from the criminal police, inspector Joss finds his colleague Gouvion dead, in a poorly faked suicide attempt. Joss loses his temper, and investigates on his... See full summary »
Albert is an inn owner who vowed never to drink again if he and his wife survived the war. They did, and the reformed alcoholic keeps his vow. But times have changed and soon after the war,... See full summary »
Louis Bertain is the owner of a Paris garage which is the front for a robbery gang. He and his accomplices are careful to keep up a civic veneer by day, indulging in criminal activities ... See full summary »
From Montmartre to the remote French countryside, Maigret encounters the dark side of the human psyche. Yet, he manages to maintain both compassion and a sense of humor as he explores the complex motives that lie behind every crime.
For some time now, women coming home at night have been savagely murdered by a mysterious serial killer. Inspector Lagrume thinks he has found the culprit in the person of Barberot, a local butcher. But Maigret, who takes over the investigation, is not convinced. Deep inside himself, he knows the murderer is still at large. But how to trap him ? Written by
Despite his occasional appearance in the films of major directors like Max Ophuls, Jacques Becker and Jean Renoir, from the 1950s onwards Jean Gabin seemed content to rely simply on his effortlessly charismatic screen persona and elevate an apparently interminable succession of old-fashioned potboilers which, while undeniably enjoyable in themselves, now seem like a regrettable waste of this monumental French film star. Nevertheless, I try not to miss any of his films when they crop up on Italian or French Cable TV channels and, for what it's worth, I've always been on the look-out for at least two of his late 50s films - Claude Autant-Lara's LOVE IS MY PROFESSION (1958; with Brigitte Bardot) and the film under review here.
Anyway, Gabin is perfectly cast as the world-weary Police Inspector who is pondering retirement when the re-emergence of an old nemesis - a serial-killer who stabs lonely brunettes coming home late at night - taunts him back into action with a supremely clever plan to trap the killer, hence the film's title. The film also features in a supporting role the actor who, for all intents and purposes, replaced Gabin in French filmgoers' minds as the brooding action hero, Lino Ventura, but it's Annie Girardot (as a neglected but ultimately self-sacrificing wife) and Jean Desailly (as her impotent, mother-fixated artist husband) who leave the best impression in the crowded supporting cast.
Jean Gabin would go on to appear as Inspector Maigret in 2 subsequent films - MAIGRET ET L' AFFAIRE SAINT-FIACRE (1959; which I've caught up with a couple of years ago) and MAIGRET VOIS ROUGE (1963) - and work a further 5 times with director Delannoy (including the afore-mentioned second Maigret film); interestingly enough, Delannoy himself would abandon his own artistic aspirations shown earlier in two major French films of the 1940s - L'ETERNEL RETOUR (1943) and LA SYMPHONIE PASTORALE (1946) - to concentrate on modest genre offerings (of which MAIGRET SETS A TRAP is the best-known and probably best overall as well) for the rest of his career.
Inspector Maigret is celebrated French pulp writer Georges Simenon's most famous literary creation and had previously been portrayed on the screen by Pierre Renoir in one of his brother Jean's most elusive films, NIGHT AT THE CROSSROADS (1932), and also by the great Charles Laughton in Burgess Meredith's intriguing directorial outing, THE MAN IN THE EIFFEL TOWER (1950) - neither of which I've watched alas - and would go on to be impersonated by a variety of formidable character actors among them Rupert Davies, Gino Cervi and Michael Gambon for TV!
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