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Chief Dan George
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Montreal: Late at night the teenage Patricia flees into a police department, covered all over with blood. She states together with her cousin she took shelter from rain in an entry way on their way home from a party, when an unknown man threatened them, forced her cousin to perform oral sex and then killed her. Patricia could barely escape. The police starts searching among the known sex criminals - but then Patricia changes her statement and states her brother Andrew, who had an affair with his cousin, was the murderer. Inspector Carella doesn't quite believe both the statements. Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
This is an unusual foray in the English language for Chabrol (albeit set in Canada, where French is extensively spoken) but a most typical mystery for him (based on a novel by popular American pulp writer Ed McBain) and, in retrospect, an underrated (if unassuming) work.
The director also managed to rope in a good cast, led by Donald Sutherland (a genuine Canadian, playing a character not too far removed from his star-making turn in KLUTE ), as well as David Hemmings and Donald Pleasence (quietly impressive in the role of a paedophile) to act as red herrings. However, the best performances come from the two young female protagonists (who were ostensibly assaulted one night at the film's very start) and especially the sole survivor, whose version of events keeps changing throughout the film, as Sutherland and the audience gradually begins to put the pieces together with every new disclosed fact. On the other hand, Chabrol's own wife Stephane Audran is saddled with a thankless mother role.
Though the ultimate revelation is hardly overwhelmingly original, the incestuous connotations are provocative enough to make the journey there a fairly powerful one. The copy I acquired (which seems to be slightly trimmed running 91 minutes against the official 100) was full-frame and excessively soft, but certainly serviceable for such a rare item. Interestingly, the French edition of this title contains an alternate score by Chabrol regular Pierre Jansen to the one provided here by Howard Blake.
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