As has happened before once again I find that apart from my friend dbmonteuil I am the sole person commenting on this film. We could, of course, put this another way and state categorically that dbmonteuil and I are the only two people active on IMDb capable of distinguishing wheat from chaff, or, a tad more colorfully, the only two guys who know their ass from third base. Whatever, this is yet another fine effort from Gremillon, arguably the best-kept secret in French cinema; when he shot this - at short notice - in 1949, he still had one masterpiece (Love Of A Woman, with a great performance from Micheline Presle) left in the tank and which would be unveiled in 1953 but this is fine to be going on with. Suzy Delair gets top billing and, to be fair, she had earned it and not just by being Clouzot's girl friend though it certainly did her no harm to be cast in one he scripted (Last Of The Six) and two he directed (The Killer Lives At Number 21 and Quai des Orfevres) although, of course, this would have been meaningless had she been unable to deliver. The pseuds are going to call this 'referential' and it is undeniable that there are elements of, for example, L'Assassinat de pere-noel (remote community, large château, off-the-wall characters) and Lumiere d'ete (remote area, large château, off-the-wall characters) and we shouldn't forget that Lumiere d'ete was also shot by Gremillon. Nevertheless it is laden with atmosphere and fine performances from a cast largely unknown in England apart from lovers of French cinema, who will relish the third appearance in one decade in a masterpiece (Les Visiteurs du soir, Goupi Mains Rouge) by Fernand Ledoux, and hazard a guess that here Michel Bouquet had been frightened by Robert Le Vigan. If anyone deserves singling out it is Arlette Thomas as Mimi, le bossue, as distinctive in her way as Gremillon's earlier Dinah, la Metisse. This is one that should be seen.
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