French cinema did not often broach sci-fi;the only effort during the Occupation days ,"Croisières Sidérales" ,was distressingly silly :don't you learn that on Venus ,you can breathe fresh air and that they speak French,like everybody should do,across the universe? So "L'Invité De La Onzième Heure" looks like an anomaly in the Liberation cinema.
A scientist (Roger Pigaut)invents a sensational machine which can read the mind.He's invited his family plus an unexpected mysterious guest :the movie is all the more surprising since it begins as a comedy ,continues as a sci-fi movie ,and halfway through turns into a whodunit.The inventor has his guests' thoughts recorded Willy-nilly and he tells them he'll read them tomorrow.As the guests do not really wish him well,there's a storm brewing.During the night ,the professor is poisoned and ,in the grand tradition of Agatha Christie ,everyone had a reason to get away with him.The intruder guest claims he is a detective and he investigates.But he might be an impostor.
The movie is filmed in an abbey ,the weather is thundery ,and the doors are mysteriously closed;add a power failure and you have an eerie atmosphere.
The sci-fi paraphernalia is cheap ,recalling "plan nine outer space" ,but there are enough unexpected twists to satisfy a thriller buff;the detective plot is not unlike Christie's smash hit "the mousetrap" ;only an efficient director is lacking here:Maurice Cloche does not rise to the occasion .
Watch it anyway if you can find it:it's completely out of touch with the contemporary French cinema.
Like this? try this.....
"L'ennemi Sans Visage" Maurice Cammage , 1946
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