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A note about Belgian Jean Ray,who wrote " La Cité De l'Indicible Peur".His most famous works were the adventures of private detective Harry Dickson -that could make a wonderful TV series -and "Malpertuis" ,transferred to the screen in 1971.Ray's universe is horror,terror and if his explanations often dissatisfy,being too far-fetched,they sustain the reader's interest .
Fact :Mocky was told his original title was not commercial enough ,and he was ordered to change it for "La Grande Frousse" (the big fright);later he bought it back and re-edited it .
Nevertheless,he did not really capture Ray's atmosphere ;it is a burlesque farce ,which may be off-putting for the writer's fans .The precedent user hinted at "twion peaks" but actually,there are echoes of Prévert/Carné's "Drôle De Drame" (1937).
The choice of Bourvil might seem amazing but not only the actor made several movies with the director,he also produced the movie (Raimbourg is Bourvil's name) .Bourvil is cast as a not-so-smart detective but there's a curious alienation effect and the viewer sees him in a different light ;some well-known actors such as Raymond Rouleau,Jean-Louis Barrault (star of the aforementioned "Drole De Drame") Jean Poiret or venerable Victor Francen seem almost disturbing,under a simple geniality.
The settings and the lightings are stunning and the atmosphere of a town from the Middle-Ages is perfectly captured .But if Mocky claims Ray's original title ,there is a contradiction:the writer's terrifying tales were not black humor (one of the Ray's weaknesses is his total lack of humor)and Mocky's lines are not really up to scratch anyway.
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