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La neige était sale (1954)



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Frank Friedmayer
Daniel Ivernel ...
Marie Mansart ...
Suzy Holtz
Véra Norman ...
Nadine Basile ...
Paul Faivre ...
Le concierge
Joëlle Bernard ...
Une fille
Camille Guérini ...
Le commissaire
Denyse Réal ...
(as Denise Réal)
Claude Vernier ...
Jo Dest ...
Un Allemand
Pierre Duncan
Henri San Juan ...
(as San Juan)
Robert Moor ...
Le professeur
Jean-Pierre Mocky ...
Le violoniste (as J.P. Mocky)


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based on novel | See All (1) »


From the best-selling psychological thriller by Georges Simenon, which Newsweek called "A Masterpiece"...The story of a man who grew up in a house of questionable repute!




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Release Date:

3 December 1954 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

The Snow Was Black  »

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

The road to perdition
18 December 2008 | by See all my reviews

A desperate movie;the story is so bleak,so depressing and so disturbing that the authors felt compelled to begin their film with a warning ,a Christian one ,probably to comfort the bewildered audience ,and the opportunity for the lowest of the low to redeem himself ...all this seems pathetic for Simenon's book was probably inspired by Existentialism and it has Camus or Sartre's accents .

Daniel Gélin had always told that this film was his best performance ever:all we can do is approve of his judgment.Playing such a demeaning part at a time when the censorship was powerful was a risky move for an actor.He is simply admirable,running the whole gamut from the born-loser who knows his fate is sealed since he was born to the bastard who wants to sink lower and lower ...(in a way you can go as far as to say that Frank predates Malle's "Lacombe Lucien" by twenty years.)

Frank got a raw deal;when he was a child ,his mother,a madam,had a new lover every time she came to visit her son,left in a clockmaker's care . When he grew up into a man ,his hatred for her knew no bounds anymore: his revenge was to sink even lower than she did .When he meets a pure young girl,the baffled boy meets something he cannot understand:true love .Suzy tells him : "You cannot keep me from dreaming of our love ,let me imagine it".

In a WW2 occupied country -it was located in Central Europa,not to scare French audience - ,good and bad have not the same meaning;do they mean something anyway?Frank becomes a collaborator ,abetted by his good friend Krommer,who provides him with a "green card" .

Tarnished purity is the main subject of Saslavsky's movie,from the very beginning.Memorable scenes:

Frank,still a child,listening to a music box decorated with angels while his mom and her beau visit him ...the old couple ,trying to make the mother understand how much Frank needs her...

Frank ,coming back to this shop where he used to play ,and displaying no pity for the old lady who showed so much compassion when he was left to his own devices.

Suzy,who wants to give everything if she can win Frank's love horribly betrayed and handed over to a swine.

Then this extraordinary scene,to rival the best of Frank Borzage ,when Suzy ,half-naked ,is running away in the snow which is not white anymore ..as a train's lugubrious hoot is heard

The gate and the icy wind which blows through when you are to be executed ,the wind that makes you turn up your collar.

The prison in an abandoned school which epitomizes childhood ,a time when you are still innocent ,and a vision of how life could have been through the bars of a window.

Because he cannot accept true love ,because he knows that it does not make any sense to him,Frank 's behavior becomes criminally absurd: he kills a German officer,all in a dream,as he kills his old nanny .When he's arrested ,he does not even know the reason why -for these crimes have remained unexplained-,but he knows he must die for it's a dead end.

To write that "La Neige Etait Sale" is one of the best French movies of the fifties is to state the obvious.And in spite of its very low rating -which is completely irrelevant and unfair-,I urge the users to watch it immediately if they can .Anyone interested in the "oldies" of the FRench cinema can't ignore such a work.

Let's add that Valentine Tessier is excellent as the hateful mother ,Madame Irma,and that it was 1957 before Saslavsky could make another movie:although not as strong as this one,it was an absorbing adaptation of Boileau/Narcejac's "Les Louves" with François Périer ,abetted by the cream of French actresses:Jeanne Moreau, Micheline Presles,Madeleine Robinson.

A remake is to be made by David McKenzie (stain in the snow)in the year to come....

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