End of the line for Simone Signoret.And unfortunately,not one of her best ,by a long shot.Granier-Deferre was never a great director ;he continued the cinema de qualité tradition.His closer relative is certainly Jean Delannoy-who did a better job with Simenon's books :his two late fifties Maigret are brilliant.Like him,he's icily impersonal ;that's why French critics -in spite of some moments of inspiration:"le chat" " la veuve Couderc" and his overlooked "une étrange affaire" ,probably his finest hour-never hailed him as an "auteur" .
The first part is almost entirely Signoret-less and ,as Fanny Cottençon is totally bland (acting like a Barbie Doll),the audience desperately relies on Noiret.When Signoret's part becomes more important,as the movie progresses,the film begins to hit its stride.But it remains listless .Granier is unable to make Signoret's house's guests interesting:Clouzot ("l'assassin habite au 21" ) and Duvivier ("la fin du jour" ) ,Granier-Deferre cannot hold a candle to both of them.Only Signoret's fans need bother.But I guess they are numerous so...But if they have not seen "manèges" ,"diabolique" or (her triumph!) "Casque d'Or" ,do not think twice.
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