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Just Before Nightfall (1971)
"Juste avant la nuit" (original title)

 -  Crime | Drama  -  31 March 1971 (France)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 863 users  
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Charles Masson, an advertising executive, is having an affair with Laura, the wife of his best friend, the architect François Tellier. Charles strangles Laura when one of their S&M games ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
François Périer ...
Dominique Zardi ...
Henri Attal ...
Paul Temps ...
Daniel Lecourtois ...
Clelia Matania ...
Celia ...
Pascal Gillot ...
Auguste Masson
Brigitte Périn ...
Joséphine Masson
Marcel Gassouk ...
Anna Douking ...
Roger Lumont ...
Commissaire Delfeil


Charles Masson, an advertising executive, is having an affair with Laura, the wife of his best friend, the architect François Tellier. Charles strangles Laura when one of their S&M games goes too far. Dazed, Charles walks out of the borrowed apartment in Paris and soon bumps into François in a nearby bistro. They drive back together to Versailles, where they have beautiful neighboring houses designed by François. The owner of the apartment had seen Laura and Charles together two months earlier, but she does not tell the police on the advice of François. Even though the police do not seem to have any clues to the crime, Charles has a difficult time coping with the situation, and trying to live a normal life with his two children and loving wife Hélène. Written by Will Gilbert

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Crime | Drama


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Release Date:

31 March 1971 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Just Before Nightfall  »

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Version of The Stranger Within a Woman (1966) See more »

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User Reviews

JUST BEFORE NIGHTFALL (Claude Chabrol, 1971) ***
17 June 2010 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

Though coming from Chabrol's major phase (1967-1975), this was only recently released on DVD – and exclusively on R2 at that!; still, I had missed an incongruous Saturday morning broadcast of the film on Italian TV several years back. Ironically, even if it can lay a claim to being among the director's best-regarded efforts, I admit to having found such lesser-known Chabrol titles as DEATH RITE (1976) and ALICE OR THE LAST ESCAPADE (1977) – both of which immediately preceded this viewing – more readily satisfying…though the fact that JUST BEFORE NIGHTFALL treads typically bourgeois i.e. inherently mundane territory, whereas the others were fanciful (thus essentially lightweight), may have had more to do with this than anything else!

Actually, my main quibble with the film is its overlength (due to the protagonist's wallowing in self-pity, this being basically an update of Dostoyevsky's literary classic "Crime And Punishment", during the last act); in a way, it is also a reversal of Chabrol's own LA FEMME INFIDELE (1969), with the very same stars (Michel Bouquet and Stephane Audran) no less. In the latter she is initially oblivious – and eventually forgiving – of his having learnt about her infidelity and murdered the other man, while here it is he who has a clandestine affair, kills the woman concerned and then confesses to both the wife and his best friend (husband of the deceased and played by Francois Perier), both of whom try to convince the guilt-stricken hero thereafter not to give himself up to the Police (she even taking extreme measures to this end)! Audran, still at the height of her statuesque beauty, is a particular delight and she went on to win a BAFTA award for it (shared for the actress' famously unruffled turn in that Luis Bunuel masterpiece THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE [1972]).

A subplot, then, depicts a comparable folly to the protagonist's – where the elderly and meek-looking cashier in Bouquet's firm embezzles funds to sustain his unlikely romance with a much younger woman (not that the perennially exhausted hero bore the looks of a Casanova himself but, at least, his sluttish mistress is clearly shown to be into sado-masochism). Ultimately, such ironic yet provocative (indeed quasi-surrealist) psychological nuances, are what make Chabrol's work so intriguing and quietly rewarding – more so, in fact, than perhaps any other of the "Nouvelle Vague" film-makers.

3 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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