7.1/10
1,071
40 user 22 critic

Reign of Terror (1949)

Approved | | History, Romance, Thriller | 15 October 1949 (USA)
Robespierrre, a powerful figure in the French revolution, is desperately looking for his black book, a death list of those marked for the guillotine.

Director:

Writers:

(story by), (story by) (as Aeneas MacKenzie) | 2 more credits »
Reviews

Watch Now

With Prime Video

WATCH NOW
ON DISC

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

High-class crook gets in trouble with the law.

Director: Robert Rossen
Stars: Dick Powell, Evelyn Keyes, Lee J. Cobb
Adventure | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A New York City detective, traveling by train between New York and Baltimore, tries to foil an on-board plot to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln before he reaches Baltimore to give a major pre-Inauguration speech in 1861.

Director: Anthony Mann
Stars: Dick Powell, Paula Raymond, Adolphe Menjou
Certificate: Passed Action | Adventure | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A well-planned robbery goes awry, with tough cop Cordell in pursuit.

Director: Richard Fleischer
Stars: Charles McGraw, Adele Jergens, William Talman
Manhandled (1949)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

The secretary to a phony psychiatrist finds herself caught up in the murder of a patient's wife and realizes that her life is also in danger.

Director: Lewis R. Foster
Stars: Dan Duryea, Dorothy Lamour, Sterling Hayden
Framed (1947)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Mike Lambert, seeking a mining job, instead becomes the patsy for a femme-fatale's schemes.

Director: Richard Wallace
Stars: Glenn Ford, Janis Carter, Barry Sullivan
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Mexican and American federal agents tackle a vicious gang exploiting illegal farm workers in southern California.

Director: Anthony Mann
Stars: Ricardo Montalban, George Murphy, Howard Da Silva
Pitfall (1948)
Crime | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Married insurance adjuster John Forbes falls for femme fatale Mona Stevens while her boyfriend is in jail and all suffer serious consequences as a result.

Director: André De Toth
Stars: Dick Powell, Lizabeth Scott, Jane Wyatt
Railroaded! (1947)
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A beautician and her crooked boyfriend attempt to rob the bookie operation located in the back room, but when the plan goes wrong, they frame an innocent man.

Director: Anthony Mann
Stars: John Ireland, Sheila Ryan, Hugh Beaumont
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Mystery writer Cornelius Leyden becomes intrigued when the murdered body of a vicious career criminal washes up in the Bosphorus.

Director: Jean Negulesco
Stars: Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, Zachary Scott
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A veteran homicide detective who has witnessed his socialite girlfriend kill her husband sees his inexperienced brother assigned to the case.

Director: Felix E. Feist
Stars: Lee J. Cobb, Jane Wyatt, John Dall
Crime | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

This film-noir piece, told in semi-documentary style, follows police on the hunt for a resourceful criminal who shoots and kills a cop.

Directors: Alfred L. Werker, Anthony Mann
Stars: Richard Basehart, Scott Brady, Roy Roberts
Crime | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Based on the files of the United States Department of Treasury. Commissioner Michael Barrows is an American Government Agent. On board a Coast Gaurd boat off the California coast he chases ... See full summary »

Director: Robert Stevenson
Stars: Dick Powell, Signe Hasso, Maylia
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
... Charles D'Aubigny
... Maximilian Robespierre
... François Barras
... Madelon
... Fouché
... Tallien
... Sergeant
... Grandma Blanchard
... Saint Just
Edit

Storyline

Robespierre, a powerful figure in the French Revolution and the subsequent Reign of Terror, is desperately looking for his black book, a death list of those marked by him for the guillotine and a key to help him eventually emerge as the country's dictator. He hopes his agents will recover it, but, if it falls in to the wrong hands, it would mean his political ruin and death. Written by duke1029

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

15 October 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Black Book  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The title was changed to "The Black Book." Which is how it was listed when shown on TCM. See more »

Quotes

Fouché: There's a revolution going on... Don't stay out late.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Bowser Makes a Movie (2005) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
France's First Revolutionary Dictator
18 March 2006 | by See all my reviews

The question will never be really answered: What was the exact set of goals of Maximillien Robespierre, lawyer from Arras, France, who was (from July 1793 to June 1794) the central figure of public attention in France and the apparent dictator of the country? We won't know because he failed in the end - in possibly the most satisfactory fall from power of any dictator in modern history. His secrets died with him.

Robespierre has been painted as the great "green-eyed" monster of the Revolution. That was the phrase used by Thomas Carlyle in describing Robespierre in Carlyle's classic history of the revolution. A prissy, powder-wigged figure, who never found a kind word to say about anybody who was in power - and so undermined several rivals while he grew more powerful. He did give lip service to the Revolution's ideals, but apparently was more in love with the concept of mankind, than in individual men and women. He spoke about a cult of pure reason (an idea he gathered from the philosophes, especially Jean-Jacques Rousseau)and even held a festival for the cult shortly before he fell from power. Not really much to say about his program, except that his proscription made the Reign of Terror what it was.

But was he blown out of size? Some historians in the 20th Century feel that he was not all powerful. He was elected head of the Jacobin Club, and he was a member of the Committee of Public Safety - with eleven other men. The Committee was actually a committee set up with extraordinary powers by the National Assembly, and was supposed to run the war effort against Europe, and keep a lid on the problems on the home front. The historian R.R. Palmer (in "Twelve Who Ruled") makes a good case that Robespierre was not the only one with authority, but that all these men did valuable work. In particular, Louis Lazare Carnot, an amateur who turned out to be one of military history's most amazingly, unexpected geniuses. Carnot built the great French Revolutionary armies that were to be the weapon that Napoleon and his marshals used to conquer most of Europe.

But it was Robespierre (along with his two closest allies on the Committee: Robert Couthon and Antoine St. Just) who was the most fanatical in searching for hidden internal enemies. Their standards are the model for later similar "witch hunters", like Heinrich Himmler, Laventi Beria, and Senator Joseph McCarthy - you find a weak point, spread a lie, and then pound the lie into everyone until it becomes the truth. Robespierre did this with the Royal Family, the Girondists (moderates), General Lafayette (fortunately in an Austrian prison when denounced), General Dumouriez (who decided to surrender himself for safety sake to the Prussians), and then the radicals. He did not have to go after all his rivals. Jean Paul Marat would be stabbed by Charlotte Corday (the Girondists later said they wished she had consulted with them, they would have pointed out another target). But he did confront and destroy his right of center moderate rival Georges Danton, and later his far left rival Hebert.

There are, oddly enough, very few films dealing with this story. Robespierre does show up at the end of "Marie Antoinette", and is Chauvin's boss in "The Scarlet Pimpernel". The various versions of "A Tale Of Two Cities" do not need him (he's not in Dicken's novel). Only two films deal with him that I am aware of. A French film, "Danton", deals with his duel to the death with the great moderate and orator (played by Gerard Depardieu), and how Danton warns the country of the dangers of Robespierre's policies and personality but is unable to avoid being proscribed and executed.

Then there is this film. Directed by Anthony Mann, it paints a dismal view of the Paris of the months of May - June 1794, and how Robespierre finally is brought down. Played (very well) by Richard Basehart, his Achilles heel is a book of names of allies and enemies, and when he will destroy them to achieve total power. Robert Cummings and Arlene Dahl, with a cynical assist from Arnold Moss (as Joseph Fouche, Napoleon's future secret police chief) demolish Robespierre by getting the book into the right hands.

Did the book exist? We don't know. Stanley Loomis, in his interesting "Paris In The Terror" shows that it did not need to actually be in existence. Robespierre always had a proscription list in mind, and had he been smart he could have revealed it and reassured many who would not have stood in his way. But he was too arrogant and refused to do so. Fouche, who was an enemy of Robespierre, spread the word to almost every member of the National Assembly that they were on the hit list. Robespierre was shouted down when he tried to finally explain his plans, and was shot in the mouth just before he was arrested. On July 11, 1794 ("Thermidor" on the French Revolutionary Calender), he, Couthon, St. Just, and a dozen close associates were all guillotined. Although conservative, reactionary "White Terror" occurred in 1795, it was short and not as wholesale. Robespierre's Reign of Terror cost about 14,000 lives in France...and don't forget it was planned to continue for quite a while afterward. As Loomis writes in his study, the Terror died with him.


26 of 31 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 40 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page



Recently Viewed