Covering up a manslaughter produces big problems for Sami Frey and sister Juliette Mayniel
"La nuit des traqués" (1959) is a b-movie and a film noir. The story takes place in Antwerp, a large portion of it at night and in a warehouse and/or dock area. The noir photography is a strong point of this movie.
The story opens at night with the late-teen Sami Frey walking in this area to meet a group his age that hangs out. The club members have come under the influence and strong hand of Philippe Clay. Frey's older sister is played by Juliette Mayniel and her fiancé is Claude Titre. His best friend is played by Michel Dumoulin.
For a spell, the movie plays like a teenage movie as the boys and girls joke, dance, sing and bring the results of their very petty thievery to the intimidating Clay. But when he threatens to kill Victor's pet Capuchin monkey, a knife fight erupts and Victor stabs Clay to death. After that, the story is completely noir.
Rather than face manslaughter and the consequences, Frey and Dumoulin decide to dispose of the body far from the warehouse district using Clay's car. Mayniel comes looking for the monkey and joins them. She's spotted by a smuggler and thief there to pull a job, Folco Lulli. He sees an opportunity for blackmail and extorting sexual favors from Mayniel.
Frey and Dumoulin convey teenage angst, compounded severely by the death of Clay. Mayniel and her secure and more mature fiancé Titre both get dragged into the mess. The story encloses its principals in a situation in which there seems to them no solution by turning to the authority of police.
I rate this as somewhat below par, mainly because the script doesn't fully develop the reasons for some important decisions that are made, like what to do about the manslaughter and how to handle Lulli's demands. This weakens the story quite a lot, but the movie is an honest effort and has its moments.
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