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Lovers Danielle Darrieux and Michael Auclair suspect each other when her husband, Jean Servais, dies in an apparent auto accident
I watched an excellent widescreen print of "Meurtre en 45 tours" (1960) that allows one to appreciate the noir photography of this movie, which is a noir mystery. English subtitles were fine. The movie can be viewed on Amazon, but who knows what that version is? Amazon doesn't know enough or have the sense enough or wish to incur the cost to say or show anything about the content, aspect ratio or subtitles of their movies.
All 4 of the existing reviews on IMDb are useful, including the short one for which only 1 of 7 people said it was useful and the other 6 said it wasn't. That review accurately says that this movie "unfortunately does not work as it should". Also: "Except for Jean Servais at his cynical best, the cast is not convincing and the action drags through the usual twists of the suspense scenario." This is correct. Ms. Darrieux is too stiff in this one and doesn't project enough of the shift in her character after her husband (Servais) dies in an auto accident. She has no sparks with her lover, Michael Auclair. Her suspicions of him are too unemotional. Her attractions to him are not evident. For his part, he seems mainly to mope around looking glum. The director went for too much understatement and underplaying. Servais is the only one of the major players who brings some fire to his role, even when he is only a voice on a 45 rpm recording. Jacqueline Danno is allowed to show her strong feelings as a competing singer to Darrieux, but her part is relatively small.
The movie is by no means without merit and I suspect it will play somewhat better on a second viewing, but it does tend to drag and its red herrings are not as effective as they should be. The movie is too bland. One of the more interesting things about the story is the mutual suspicion of the two lovers, but the script and direction do not allow this to rise to intense noir levels.
Doris Day, toned down some and suitably directed, would have livened up this movie. Her command of emotion is superb. She showed in "Julie" (1956) a great capability. She would have demanded better songs and then sung them convincingly. Ginger Rogers might possibly have done quite well cast here against her usual strong type. Her work in "Twist of Fate" (1954) shows her depth of skill in such a role.
As everyone notes, the movie tried to capitalize on "Diabolique" and the idea of a husband coming back from the dead or not really being dead. This is hard to pull off. The plot here succeeds in doing it by fashioning the story as a mystery in which we are not given enough information to know the truth until the very end. We are perhaps even inclined to be misdirected into a wrong assessment. As in many mysteries, there comes a time when the resident cop ties the whole thing up for us. Before that happens, those with a logical facility and attention to detail will have largely figured out what's going on.
I recommend the movie, and I suspect many viewers will find it affords quite a lot of pleasure while others will be sensitive to its faults. It is a welcome noir, but we cannot say that it is a signal one.
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