Hector Loursat, attorney at law, lives with his daughter Nicole in a vast and shabby mansion in this provincial town. They dont talk to each other much, somehow holding the other one ...
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Hector Loursat, attorney at law, lives with his daughter Nicole in a vast and shabby mansion in this provincial town. They dont talk to each other much, somehow holding the other one responsible for the situation: Hector Loursat used to be one of the great attorneys until his wife left him for another man eighteen years ago. He has been drinking ever since, and given up living altogether, intoxicated every night. Hector did not care much about his daughter, who was brought up by Fine, the old woman servant in the house.
One night, gunshots are heard upstairs in the house and Hector spots a shadow running away. Hector goes upstairs with Nicole and finds a dead man lying on an old bed in the attic. The police arrives and investigates. Hector soon finds out his daughter has a kind of secret life with a band of young idle bourgeois from the town: they have regular meetings in the attic.
The police soon finds out the dead man is called Gros Louis, with a criminal record. Nicole and her ...
Raimu as a dipsomaniacal criminal lawyer, disillusioned with life. A stunning psychological murder mystery with sardonic Gallic overtones, adapted by France's predigiously gifted new author-director, Henri-Georges Clouzot ("The Raven" & "Jenny Lamour")
The precedent movie "le Bienfaiteur" was a timid attempt at a society put down ."Les Inconnus dans la Maison" has two major assets:Raimu,one of the most prodigious actors the French cinema has ever had and Henri-George Clouzot ,the future director of such gems as "diabolique" "le Corbeau" or "le Salaire de la Peur "(wages of fear).But it does not explain the success of this work.The whole town,the old house are wrapped in a strange poetry "someone is walking in the attic upstairs the heroine says -No,that must be this old creaking furniture".The first pictures display the saddest town in the world where the rain keeps falling down.
Raimu's performance is once more stunning:during one hour ,his part is completely subdued,because he plays a human wreck,who is on the booze all day long.A former lawyer,he called it quits when his wife left him;and now,he lives with his daughter whom he does not seem to love very much.Then he discovers a dead body in his house :the girl and her pack of youngsters are involved .But he acts as like he doesn't care.He agrees to defend the suspect,his daughter's boyfriend.
Raimu really plays Lazarus:after attending the first part of the trial in a complete indifference,uttering one word or two ,he rises from the dead and puts the teenagers'parents in the dock.Raimu's performance is really sublime and a lot of actors who intend to play a lawyer should have a look at "les inconnus dans la maison".
With this film,Decoin became a great film noir director -he will outdo himself in "non coupable" -In spite of a happy end ,the audience leaves the movie with a bitter taste in the mouth:the whole town is rotten,fathers and mothers have failed ,a subject which André Cayatte will resume in "avant le déluge" (1953).
In 1992,George Lautner redid "les inconnus dans la maison" with Jean-Paul Belmondo as the lead.But a remake is a remake ,and taking on a Raimu's part is pure suicide:besides,time had taken its toll and the screenplay which was original in 1942 became mundane fifty years later:the movie looked like some seventies qualité française movie,at a time when drug was the subject à la mode.
Another remake was made by Pierre Rouve ("Stranger in the house" )between Decoin's and Lautner's versions ,with James Mason as the lead in 1967.
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