Diabolique (1955) Poster

(1955)

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10/10
one of the best French films I have ever seen
MartinHafer13 June 2005
I loved this movie so much! This is because I rarely have had a movie throw so many surprises and twists into the plot! Movies too often doing the conventional and expected is one of the reasons I like to watch a lot of foreign films and this one takes the cake! The film is a "noirish" suspense film about two women who want to kill the same man. One is the wife and the other is his mistress. They both meet and agree to kill him together! That alone makes this an interesting twist! What they exactly do and the twists that occur I don't want to discuss, as it would really ruin the movie! Just believe me that the acting, writing and directing couldn't be better and when it was over, I was more than satisfied!
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Masterpiece
Michael_Elliott23 December 2008
Diabolique (1955)

**** (out of 4)

French masterpiece about a wife (Vera Clouzot) and her husband's mistress (Simone Signoret) who plan on killing the husband. After the murder the two women dump his body in a swimming pool so that someone else can discover it but when the pool is drained the body is gone. What's so great about this film is that the described plot isn't the story but instead just the set up as director Clouzot uses this to build tension from the start of the film to its end. The funny thing is that the wife in the movie has a heart condition that is constantly troubling her whenever more mystery surrounds her husband's death and the tension she is feeling is also what the viewing is feeling. I saw the remake when it was first released but couldn't remember a thing about it so this all came as a new viewing for me and I think the movie's reputation of being one of the most suspenseful films ever made rings true and then some. Starting with the beautiful murder sequence, the movie has an unnerving and unsettling mood and feel that last the entire movie. The director builds up a wonderful, tense atmosphere and never lets it go. A lot of filmmakers go for various jump scares but that's not the case here as the movie instead just builds a minor tension and slowly keeps it rising. There aren't any humor scenes to calm things down because the subject matter is handled very seriously and the terror of the wife is what comes across. Everything she feels in the movie is the same thing the viewer is feeling so it's refreshing not having fake humor thrown in. What really makes the film move are the wonderful performances with Clouzot, the director's wife, leading the way. A lot of actresses have had to play being terrified but I must admit that I think this is one of the best. I won't ruin her scene at the end but it's quite breathtaking just watching her work. Signoret makes the perfect mistress as she comes across as quite the bitch yet also gains some sympathy of her own. Paul Meurisse is also very good in the role of the husband and has no trouble coming across as someone you want to see the women kill. I've heard some complain that the ending is silly but I have to disagree as the movie really keeps you guessing from start to finish. The level of suspense is top-notch throughout and I think the ending delivers as well.
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8/10
An exemplary classic of French suspense cinema
Leofwine_draca24 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
LES DIABOLIQUES is a spooky and intense classic from France, a psychological thriller in which a pair of women decide to kill a bullying and controlling school headmaster. One of them is his wife, the other his mistress, and both hate him for good reason. Their plot goes to plan but the psychological toll of what they have done weighs heavy on them, compounded by further mystery when the body goes missing.

There's very little to dislike about this classic movie which has a sheen of quality to it. The expert direction draws out the suspense of the situation without resorting to jump scares or sinister music; the camera-work is very fine and the slow-moving nature of the narrative allows you to become fully immersed in the realism of the piece. The actors are exemplary, as you would imagine, and the film features some quite wonderful ghastly set-pieces involving corpses rising from baths and the like. That it is still frightening when seen today says plenty.

LES DIABOLIQUES is also an influential movie; try watching Hitchcock's PSYCHO and in particular Kubrick's THE SHINING afterwards, you can see this film's fingerprints all over them. The Shaw Brothers studio even went ahead to make their own, even more involved spin on the story, the quite wonderful HEX which turns out to be very nearly every bit as entertaining as this film, albeit in a quite different genre. Horror and thriller fans will be in their element with this outstanding lesson in movie-making.
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9/10
Iconic noir thriller
SnoopyStyle25 August 2013
The headmaster of a boys' school is a cruel domineering man. Together, his mistress and his submissive wife conspire to kill him. They knock him out with adulterated wine, drown him in the bathtub, then dump the body in the school's pool. They had hoped that someone would find his body, but when his body disappears, strange events begin to plague the two women.

This is not just a french classic but an iconic noir film of all times. The film is based on Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac's novel "Celle qui n'était plus" (She Who Was No More). Alfred Hitchcock also attempted to buy the rights to this novel but Henri-Georges Clouzot beat him to it by hours. Anyone will see a Hitchcockian feel to this story. It's one of the few times when a quick English remake by another director would be incredible. The story is just filled with tension. The over-bearing performance of the husband is frightening. It deserves its place among the top movies of all times.
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10/10
An Amazing Thriller
Hitchcoc23 February 2017
If there is a better psychological thriller, I'd like to see it. Michel is a nasty master at a school where two young women work. They despise him. He is cruel to them. He is cruel to the students. When the have had enough they decide to kill him. They invite him to their place and drug him, later drowning him in a bathtub. The body is easily gotten rid of. I won't say any more because it would ruin everything. This will keep you on the edge of your seat. This has incredible pacing and atmosphere. There is that plotting where one wonders when the next shoe will fall. This is so Hitchcock-like. Amazing.
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you know it
Kirpianuscus31 May 2018
...or, more exactly you feel it. the motivation of characters. the atmosphere of school. the relation between Christina and Nicole. and, sure, the end. who, if you see for the first time, it is more than impressive. that did it one of challenge - film. not only for the story and acting. but for the chance to discover a high quality thriller. a film who easy coul be defined as legendary. for a simple motif - it seems perfect. not only as Henry Clouzot work but for so many suggestions for imagine a version by Hitchcock. because all the small ordinary details are present. all what you expect becomes more than shown in admirable manner. the fragility of Vera Clouzot. the cold force of Simone Signoret. and, sure, the performance of Paul Meurisset. a beautiful work. admirable for each scene .
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8/10
"My only regret is that he'll never know that I killed him."
classicsoncall8 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not generally given to superlatives and was quite taken by the number of reviewers here who make the claim for "Diabolique" as the most suspenseful film of all time. I too actually thought it was very good with a caveat that comes with the finale of the story which I'll get to in a bit. Director Clouzot really did a masterful job in extending the long exposition of this mystery. If one is fully engaged in the story, it's like chomping at the bit to figure out what's going on with the missing corpse from the pool and unexplained sightings of Michel Delassalle after he'd been 'murdered'. One should probably be able to see the twist coming, and maybe you could in another film, but this is one that plays on one's imagination in a way that blinds you to the eventual outcome. I thought it was just magnificently done.

The thing that bothered me about the ending are twofold. In the first instance, even if Michel (Paul Meurisse) and his lover Nicole (Simone Signoret) did manage to scare the frail Christina (Vera Clouzot) to death, what would be the basis for retired police commissioner Alfred Fichet (Charles Vanel) to arrest him for? Scaring someone to death to my mind seems more like conjecture than a chargeable crime. Who could prove it? Even though Fichet overheard the conversation between the conspirators, I don't see why a sharp lawyer couldn't put the blame on Christina's easily confirmed medical history and recent weakened condition.

The other issue comes courtesy of the young boy Moinet (Yves Marie-Maurin) who was disbelieved by all who heard him state that he saw the school principal after he disappeared. When he says he 'saw' Christina after she collapsed and was presumed dead, there was no confirmation in the story to prove the point. I'll grant that it was a good hook to keep the viewer guessing, just as it was the first time with Michel's 'murder'. But with former cop Fichet on hand, and school personnel around who would have to have removed the body, wouldn't it have to be established that she was actually dead? If one presumes so, then the scene with Moinet is a moot one.

One thought I had while watching was that this would have been a good film for Alfred Hitchcock to take under his wing, and was pleasantly educated by a handful of reviewers who stated that he missed getting the script for this film by a whisker. "Diabolique" was certainly worthy of a Hitchcock treatment, as I found it better than some of his venerated films like "Strangers on a Train" and "Shadow of a Doubt". If one disregards some of my earlier critique, I think it holds up as a pretty suspenseful thriller that keeps you guessing right till the very end.
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8/10
Classic of Horror and French Cinema
gavin694214 October 2013
The wife of a cruel headmaster and his mistress conspire to kill him, but after the murder is committed, his body disappears, and strange events begin to plague the two women.

I really feel little need to comment on this film, which has widely been seen as one of the Top 100 horror films ever made, and has been increasingly seen as one of the best films overall. IMDb (as of October 2013) has it in the #150 range, and the relatively recent Criterion special edition certainly did not hurt.

The best scene happens later on, so I cannot talk about that in this review. But many good moments happen, including the wife having to identify a body as her husband's. The process is interesting and puts her in a tense position.
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10/10
a scheme is more than meets the eye
lee_eisenberg9 September 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Henri-Georges Clouzot's 1955 thriller "Les diaboliques" (simply called "Diabolique" in English) is widely known as one of the greatest murder mysteries of all time. And trust me, you have to see it to believe it. Not only the plot, but the camera angle, lighting, and absence of music combine to make one of the most intense pieces of work out there. I did not see that ending coming, even though there were clues throughout the movie. The entire cast puts on outstanding performances (I've only seen a few of Simone Signoret's movies, but she always did a perfect job). It's too bad that Véra Clouzot died a few years after the release; she could've gone on to have one of the finest careers.

It's not the scariest movie ever, but still one of the cleverest. The first few minutes aren't much, but once Nicole and Christina carry out their deed, things REALLY get going (and if the end shocks us in the 21st century, imagine how it seemed way back when).

Having seen this one, I'm eager to see Clouzot's earlier "Wages of Fear". "Diabolique" is one for the ages; there was a US remake, but I'm not interested in that one.

And remember, don't reveal the ending!
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9/10
Les Diaboliques
jboothmillard25 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
With many great films in recent years I found this title listed in the pages of the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, it was a French film I realised during that I had wanted to see for some time, and I'm glad I watched. Basically at a second-rate boarding school the sadistic headmaster Michel Delassalle (Paul Meurisse) is married to teacher and frail wife Christina Delassalle (Véra Clouzot), but he also having a affair with mistress and fellow teacher Nicole Horner (Simone Signoret) since they first met. Despite knowing what position they are both in with him they do not show animosity towards each other, they actually get on, they are particularly close when it comes to their hatred for the man physically using and emotionally abusing them both. They have both come to the conclusion that they have had enough with Michel, and Nicole suggests a plan, and Christina eventually agrees, he is lead into his mistress's apartment, be sedated by his wife, and they drown him in the bathtub, and they dump his body in the murky school swimming pool. They assume the body will eventually be found and everyone will presume he drowned in an accident, and everything is going according to plan when they ask the pool to be drained and cleaned, but no body surfaces, it has disappeared. Days go by, with Christina being the most worried, then Nicole sees in the newspaper a drowned corpse has been found in another location, but at the morgue it is not Michel's body, but he does meet retired private detective Alfred Fichet (Charles Vanel), and he gets involved with the case. He and Christina return to the school, and a boy has been punished for breaking a window, and he claims this punishment was given to him by the headmaster, none believe him apart from the wife of the missing man who becomes sick and thinks he is seeing things. While worried Nicole leaves the school, Christina tells Alfred everything, he may not believe her but he does investigate more, and she is sure someone is in the school and it is freaking her out. It is one night that she hears noises, and going into the bathroom she is extremely shocked to find Michel's body in the bathtub, and appearing dead he rises out of the water, and she suffers a heart attack and dies. But he removes his fake dead eyes, he did not die from drowning after all, and Christina has been set up by him and Nicole to be shocked and die so that they can be together, but Alfred catches them to arrest them. The end of the film sees the little boy from earlier who has broken another window, and asked how he got his slingshot back, he claims that Christina gave it to him, but we never see or confirm she is alive. It should also be noted the final words at the end tell the audience not to reveal the ending of the film to their friends. Also starring Pierre Larquey as M. Drain, Thérèse Dorny as Mme. Herboux, Jean Brochard as Plantiveau and Michel Serrault as M. Raymond. Clouzot as the emotionally suffering wife, Signoret as the scheming other woman, and of course Meurisse as the nasty piece of work man caught in the middle, all three performances are fantastic, the film is filled with classic film noir ideas, the graveyard gloominess of the story really grips you, and of course the shocking ending (number 48 on The 100 Greatest Scary Moments) is one of the greatest ever, and gave inspiration for many imitations, a brilliant thriller. Very good!
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7/10
The Corpse Goes Missing.
rmax30482326 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Paul Meurisse runs a boarding school for boys in 1950s Paris. He's sarcastic and mean. His wife, Vera Clouzot, teaches at the school. (He beats her and rapes her.) His mistress, Simone Signoret, also teaches there, but she hates her lover. Signoret is strong willed, while Clouzot is weak, but they nevertheless join forces to dispose of their mutual tormentor, Meurisse.

The two women arrange to be at Signoret's apartment in Noirt, a town hours from Paris, and taunt Meurisse into making an angry, impromptu visit. The conspirators drug him, then drown him in the bath tub. They manage to pack him into a large wicker trunk, haul him down to their car, drive back to the school, dump his corpse into the school's murky swimming pool, and show up on time for their classes.

Then the problems begin. A day or two passes and -- no corpse rises to the surface. The women are forced to drain the pool on a pretext and -- nothing but leaves, algae, and mud.

Strange incidents keep cropping up. The suit Paul wore is delivered from the dry cleaners but the lead is a dead end. A private investigator shows up and begins poking around. A drowned body in the Seine turns out not to be Paul, as the women had hoped. A student swears that Paul remonstrated with him and confiscated his slingshot, which later turns up in the office.

Medical discretion precludes further revelations concerning the plot.

It's a well-done murder mystery, full of tension and thrills, a successful commercial enterprise. Inevitably it will be compared to Hitchcock, and it should be. The story is the sort that might have attracted either of them -- murder, guilt, suspense. But the directorial styles are different, with Clouzot's being more traditional. There are few point-of-view shots, for instance. Here we see everything "objectively." The camera doesn't linger over a plate of food. We identify with none of the characters, all of whom are evil in one or another sense. And Clouzot doesn't bash anybody's MOTHER.

Nice job by all concerned, including Henri Clouzot's wife, Vera. Imagine if the movie had been made by Herbert J. Yates at Republic, a guy who also insisted on starring his wife Vera.
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6/10
Somewhat dawdling and far-fetched murder mystery, though well-performed...
moonspinner5510 June 2010
Two female teachers at a boys' boarding school conspire to bump off the cruel headmaster, who is married to one of the ladies and finishing an affair with the other. French director Henri-Georges Clouzot, whom some have compared to Alfred Hitchcock, is so plot-driven as a filmmaker that he tends to skitter over minute details, such as a forgotten set of keys in a suit or another set of keys at the bottom of a swimming pool. Stray ends such as these tend to linger in the mind after the film is over, lessening the picture's overall impact. Clouzot also produced the film and co-adapted the screenplay from Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac's novel "Celle qui n'était plus", and perhaps got too carried away with a sub-plot involving a retired detective. The finale is mounted beautifully for suspense but, again, Clouzot is so maddeningly tied to the plot mechanisms that there isn't any room for surprises. Remade for American television as "Reflections of Murder" in 1974, and again theatrically as "Diabolique" with Sharon Stone in 1996. **1/2 from ****
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10/10
French thriller
dbdumonteil5 July 2001
French thrillers always feature a strong social background:see Claude Chabrol's movies for instance.Such is the case with "Diabolique".In ,say,"Vertigo" (which,like"Diabolique,was inspired by a Boileau-Narcejac novel),the social background is nowhere to be seen;that doesn't prevent Hitchcock 's movie from being a masterpiece though.Clouzot's screenplay is much different from the original novel.The action doesn't take place in a lousy school on the paper.Clouzot wanted to be "realistic" ,that's why he literally created the two-bit boarding-school and the grotesque teachers.The actors were so good they survived their unbelievable characters.Another significant difference between Clouzot and Hitchcock:the former saves the "surprise" for a final that leaves you on the edge of your seat,the latter-in "Vertigo"- tells the audience the whole truth before the last third,and studies his character -who does not know- and his psychological reactions.Generally,in France ,critics favor Hitch over Clouzot,but the two directors can't be compared because their approaches are diametrically opposite.

This is not legend.It is fact:this is the greatest French thriller ever.

I'm overjoyed when I read all those enthusiastic reviews from abroad after all the negative ones I 've read in my native France.Thanks to you,all IMDb users!!
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8/10
Not as good as I remembered it!
JohnHowardReid26 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I'm in two minds, however, about H.G. Clouzot's Les Diaboliques. It is certainly a movie that captured audiences in 1955. On a recent viewing of Criterion's excellent DVD, however, holes in the plot became more evident, and, even worse, the acting of Simone Signoret deteriorates badly.

The similarities to Vertigo (which Boileau and Narcejac wrote for Hitchcock when Clouzot outbid him for the rights to Diabolique) are also a minus.

Fortunately, the squalid boarding-school setting is still rich in atmosphere and veteran actor Pierre Larquey's impersonation of a put-upon schoolmaster rates as one of the finest of his extensive (well over 200 movies!) career.

Charles Vanel, however, is wasted in a minor role as a last act, intrusive, yet ultimately miscalculating ex-policeman.
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9/10
Hitchcock in French … even better!
Coventry24 October 2010
What is it that makes a film a bona fide classic or even a landmark in cinema? It's the fact that it continues to endear new and much younger target audiences, in spite of being more than half a century old. It has to do with timeless story-telling, stylistic trademarks and unequalled suspense. But most of all it's about being authentic. Henri-Georges Clouzot's "Les Diaboliques" is an authentic pioneer of murder mysteries/conspiracy thrillers. By this I mean that we've all seen numerous movies like it, so over the years we have seen all the plot twists, red herrings and clichés you can possibly imagine yourself, but in this case they honestly come across as derivative or predictable. This film is authentic while all the others copied stuff from it, but your cinematic mind ability separates the pioneers from the copycats. Fundamentally speaking, "Les Diaboliques" is a simple thriller with a logical set-up and only a limited cast of characters, but the professional elaboration elevates it to a near-perfect masterpiece. The rich but both mentally and physically weak Christina Delassalle is petrified of her tyrannical husband Michel, with whom she runs a private boarding school near Paris. Even Michel's cocky mistress Nicole is sick and tired of his cruel and dominant attitude, and thus she tries hard to convince Christina to murder their mutual bed partner and make it look like an accident. When the women finally decide to execute their perfect assassination plan, it's the start of a truly tense and nail-biting puzzle. I deliberately prefer to cease with describing the plot at this point. Most reviews, and even the synopsis on the back of the DVD box, go quite a bit further in describing the two women's further ordeals, but I think the less you know, the more you'll be overwhelmed. The used the word a couple of sentences ago already, but will do it again… "Les Diaboliques" is pretty much close to perfection. The pace of the film is slow but incredibly moody and it doesn't feature a single moment of boredom. Quite the contrary, I personally had the impression that I was continuously moving more and more towards the edge of my seat. The tone is serious and unsettling, but there's nevertheless room for small portions of subtle comedy, like the two school teachers worrying about their wine and the interlude with the drunken soldier. The inescapable suspense is often built up through very simplistic yet effective tricks, like ingenious cinematography, and patient editing. The acting performances are phenomenal. I can't even pick a favorite performance, because they were all so different but equally mesmerizing. I've read some articles which stated that "Les Diaboliques" is the best Hitchcock film Hitchcock never made. Personally I think even that is still an understatement, as this is much better than most of Hitchcock's films I've seen already (excluding "Psycho", "Strangers on a Train" and "The Birds").
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9/10
The keys in the pool, the husband in the morgue! You dream too much about water in this house!
hitchcockthelegend4 March 2008
Headmaster of a boarding school, Michel Delaselle (Paul Meurisse) is a brooding bully of a man, one day his wife and mistress decide enough is enough and plot to kill him, trouble is that once they murder him, his body disappears and reported sightings of him are adding to the ladies' paranoia.

Thus is the setting for director Henri-Georges Clouzot's brilliant suspenser. The pace is stiflingly perfect, he gently racks up the tension, neatly toying with audience expectation, the sense of dread that hangs in the air is palpable. How refreshing it is to see a suspense film actually build its plot for a good hour? In this day and age the MTV generation would be walking out of this after 30 minutes. Armand Thirard's atmospheric photography accentuates the creeping menace like mood, to the point that when we get to the last 15 minutes, nerves are already frayed and we then of course get what is arguably the greatest bath scene ever, and "that" ending...

When I first watched it back in 2008 it was on a poor quality DVD, but revisiting it on Blu-ray it still worked me over as the great suspense movie it is, forcing me to seek the solace of daylight ASAP. Great writing, great directing, great acting, the latter thriving due to Simone Signoret's dangerously simmering sexuality and Véra Clouzot's heartfelt vulnerability. It's one of the classic chillers of European cinema. And if you haven't seen it yet? Do what I did last night, get the Blu-ray, turn off the lights and just have a couple of candles flickering away in your peripheral vision. Maybe indulge in some stiff drinks like I did, and most of all, watch it on your own... 9/10
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10/10
An inspector calls
jotix10023 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The boys' school in Saint Cloud, a suburb of Paris, run by Michel and Christina Delassale, serves as the background for one of the best suspense thrillers of the French cinema. The school belongs to Christina, but it's Michel who has the last word about everything. This penny pinching man insists in giving his students living at the boarding school the worst food money can buy. Michel is also a man who loves to slap his wife, and his mistress, Nicole Horner, who is a teacher at the school.

When we first meet them, Nicole has a swollen eye and wears dark glasses to hide her shame. Obviously, everyone guesses what is really going on between Michel and Nicole, even his wife. Christina is aware of the extra-marital goings on between her husband and his mistress. A strong minded Nicole shows how she dominates the weaker Christine. Nicole, who is fed up with the situation convinces Christina something must be done. She sets things in motion to go to her home town during a brief vacation so that Christina and Nicole attract Michel to come after them as they have a plan of their own about how to deal with his abuses.

The women's plan is to bring Michel's body back to the school and dump him in the murky swimming pool, where he would be discovered as drowned by accident, or perhaps his own suicide. When the pool is drained, there is no corpse. When one of Michel's suits is sent from a dry cleaner's the women are dumbfounded. When they go to investigate, the owner hands them a key for a nearby hotel room.

Christina, who is a fragile woman with what appears to be a weak heart, feels guilty. When she reads in the newspaper about a drowning victim found on the Seine, she has to find out to see if it's her husband. Of course, the dead man is not Michel, which heightens the mystery. What Christina didn't count on is the retired inspector, Alfred Fichet, who watches her outside the viewing room at the morgue. This man will become the key figure to solving Michel's disappearance.

"Les Diaboliques" was Clouzot's triumph because the suspense works until the end. He based his screen play in a novel by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejar, who also served as the basis for "Vertigo". In fact, much has been said about the similarities between the two directors, but it is unfortunate because both men approached their work in different ways. Clouzot hints subtly at perhaps a lesbian relationship between Nicole and Christine as it appears both want to be rid of the horrible Michel.

The acting is first rate. Simone Signoret, one of the best and most attractive actresses of her era, makes an earthy Nicole. She is calculating because there is a lot at stake. Vera Clouzot plays Christine as a bundle of nerves because of the gravity of her actions. Paul Meurisse is the evil Michel. Charles Vanet is the old inspector Fichet. Also in the cast, a young Michel Serrault, and the singer Johnny Holiday, who appears uncredited as one of the boys in the school.

Henri Georges Clouzot was at the top of his craft and he clearly showed he was a master of suspense, bar none.
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8/10
The Devils
Scarecrow-8815 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Nicole and Christina believe they have committed the perfect murder of a lover and husband who was anything but the tenderhearted, most loving person in the world. That man is Michel, a principal of a male boarding school his wife Christina paid for with her wealth. Michel holds everyone at bay because he has this powerfully vile hold over everyone from his perpetually "walking-on-egg-shells" wife to the teachers under his watch. He is really abusive toward Christina who is weak with an exterior so shaken with fear she suffers from a heart condition. What makes the opening of this film so fascinating is Clouzot doesn't show the building of the set-up for murdering Michel, but we hear through their dialogue this planning of the event for quite some time. What is also jarring is that Nicole and Christina seem to be friendly with one another which is startling since Nicole is Michel's lover. There's an instance when Nicole is about to share what Michel told her in bed regarding his wishes for his wife's demise to Christina! It is quite interesting that Nicole is the instigator of the actions that soon occur regarding how they set-up Michel and kill him. We watch as this whole scenario takes place which leaves little doubt that Nicole and been premeditating how to kill Michel for quite some time. One mistake of course is deciding to include Christina in her plans to the whole set-up and murder since she's so weak-kneed that any little minute ordeal would throw her into a frenzy.

Once the deed is indeed over and they toss Michel's body in the nasty, murky pool beside the school, it's all about someone discovering it. That tricky part really ratchets up the true tension in the story. Christina, who is finding it unbearable waiting day after day as that body is supposedly waiting on the bottom undiscovered, has the pool drained but, to her horror, no body is found. Where did that body go? Who removed it? Was he dead? Throughout the film, Nicole and Christina deal with the underlying guilt from their deed and mistrust which starts to loom over their "relationship" like a rain-cloud when going to the police station often becomes a topic of conversation.

A detective makes things even worse as he represents a constant reminder that their crime is always on display as awaiting that final axe to chop never goes away. Christina is also a devout catholic which only adds to the luggage of guilt already weighing her down.

Good casting, very intelligent story-line(that develops after the "perfect murder" rather than focusing on it as what usually takes place in mysteries), and a suspenseful build-up with questions abound that keeps the viewer guessing at what will happen as that body stays missing. Though clues of his existence as a living man seems possible, the film is slippery at actually showing him while pulsating the theme of Christina's inner strife at what she has done. Great film-making in every possible way.
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10/10
Deserving of its classic status.
Hey_Sweden7 April 2014
"Les Diaboliques" is a milestone not just in the genre of suspense but in all of cinema. Rarely has a film so successfully manipulated the audience with its memorable twists and final nine minutes of pure terror. It's easy to see how influential it's been: efforts such as the Hammer feature "Taste of Fear", the slasher "The House on Sorority Row", and even the equally legendary "Psycho" have all been inspired by what director Henri-Georges Clouzot does here. It might not appeal to some of the modern audience, as its pace is quite deliberate. It's more of a drama with a neat twist until that aforementioned finale when it gets truly scary. It's got some absolutely great images and beautiful black & white cinematography by Armand Thirard. Use of the Georges Van Parys score is sparing, and in fact you don't hear any music during that final bit of suspense. This only serves to heighten the tension. The resolution is delicious and in fact there is text at the end advising viewers not to spoil it for their friends.

Based on the novel "Celle Qui N'Etait Plus" by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac, it tells the story of two long suffering women who band together to rid themselves of the human monster in their lives. They are Christina Delassalle (Vera Clouzot, wife of the director) and Nicole Horner (Simone Signoret), the timid wife and icy mistress of Michel Delassalle (Paul Meurisse), the utterly nasty headmaster of a boarding school. They conspire to murder him, and seem to pull off this task...but after they dump his body into a pool on the school grounds, it disappears.

Director Clouzot keeps you utterly engrossed and wondering where this will lead. The acting is top notch from all of the principals, also including Charles Vanel as Alfred Fichet, the savvy police commissioner who takes an interest in the case. Vera Clouzot is terrific as the bedeviled Christina, and it's too bad that she didn't do much acting in film. Meurisse is superb at playing a real piece of work. In addition to the wonderful thrills and chills, there is some humour as well.

This would be a great one to watch late at night or early in the morning. Almost 60 years later, this film loses none of its impact.

10 out of 10.
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7/10
*****POSSIBLE SPOILER AHEAD*****Would have been even better with the Hitchcock touch...
Doylenf20 February 2008
Much as I admire the morbid and fascinating melodrama of DIABOLIQUE--and it IS "morbid", an adjective I don't find among these many reviews here at IMDb--I am convinced that the film would have been even more enjoyable under Alfred Hitchcock's direction, since he would have injected some ironic and much needed humor among all the plot contrivances of the dark story. There is hardly a trace of humor in the entire film, so bleak is the storyline and so intense are the performances of SIMONE SIGNORET and VERA CLOUZOT.

*****POSSIBLE SPOILER AHEAD***** Don't read the following paragraph if you haven't yet seen the film.

And there are flaws in the ending, especially the bathtub sequence where perfect timing had to be of utmost importance to make us believe the scene could have actually gone off so perfectly. I can't say more without revealing a key plot element that would spoil the film for anyone not familiar with the story.

*****END OF SPOILER ALERT***** The French atmosphere of the boarding school where Signoret and Clouzot teach is well realized, as are all the darker elements of the story which begins when Clouzot's wish to get away from the harsh cruelty of her husband develops into a conspiracy plot with Signoret to set up a murder by drowning him in a tub and disposing of the body in the school's swimming pool.

Naturally, nothing goes according to plan and the suspense lies in watching how Clouzot suffers agonies of fear over discovery of the act, especially when an inquisitive police inspector gets onto the case after she visits a morgue to check on the deceased man's identification. After that, he doggedly follows her around trying to solve the man's disappearance.

It's all morbidly fascinating and you won't be able to turn away from the last fifteen minutes, during which time the director toys with the audience expectations to the nth degree and provides a final twist that you may or may not find acceptable as far as logic goes.
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9/10
Excellent psychological horror film
preppy-39 February 2008
Christina Delassale (Vera Clouzot) runs a French boarding school for boys. She has a tyrannical husband (Paul Mwurisse) who openly sleeps, and beats up, a sexy teacher in the school named Nicole (Simeone Signoret). Nicole and Christina have had enough of his evil. They kill him, dump the body and slowly come to realize they may have botched the job.

This was considered (until "Psycho" came out 5 years later) one of the scariest and best psychological thrillers ever made. It builds slowly but it's never dull and it tightens up the suspense until the final 15 minutes which still scare me no matter how many times I see this. It's done in total quiet and darkness and will have chills running up and down your spine. It's beautifully and atmospherically directed by Henri-Georges Clouzet--he said he wanted to scare the audience silly and he succeeds! It's beautifully acted by the three leads. Meurisse is downright terrifying and repulsive as the vicious husband. Clouzot is sweet and vulnerable. Signoret is sexy and strong. This movies' twist ending has been lessened by being used in many inferior remakes but it's still scary and a must-see. Avoid (at all costs) the 1996 Sharon Stone redo. It's a travesty and actually so incredibly bad it's kind of funny.

Older prints of this are 9 minutes shorter. They were cut (I think) because of some minor swearing.
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8/10
Avant-Garde…Influential…Imitated Many Times
LeonLouisRicci21 May 2012
Considered a Horror Film, in the Hitchcock mode, has been Imitated and Ripped-Off so many times by now that the unfolding Suspense is Lessened by now Familiar Plot devices, therefore Today, the Surprise Ending will seem Familiar, although the Denouement has a few Shots of Creative, Cutting-Edge Cinema.

The Movie does contain certain Realism and Reflection of Social and Cultural Behavior that was Not Evident in Mainstream American Cinema for Years.

Quite well Acted, however the Children's School is a Poor Choice for the Setting and is a Distraction. Presented with very Little Style, until the Last Reel, it may Not Hold Up enough for anyone Except Film Buffs and Foreign Fans.

Sadly, the passage of Time and Loving, emulating Admiration ends up, Ironically, leaving this Ground-Breaker as somewhat of a Letdown for Avid Movie Watchers.
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The Devil You Say
writers_reign10 March 2004
The odds against writing and directing two all-time classic thrillers/suspensers back to back must be fairly remote, featuring your wife in both remoter still, and starring Yves Montand in the first (The Wages Of Fear, in case there are any first-time buyers out there) and his wife, Simone Signoret in the second, astronomical. Say hello - and tip your hat while you're about it - to Henri-George Clouzot who pulled off this double whammy with ease. Clouzot made only a handful of films but those he did make were worth seeing, from Le Corbeau thru L'Assassin habite du 21 thru Quai des Orfevres and up to Wages and this one. Again many previous commenters have set the scene and described the plot and most of them are more than positive in their praise. I can only endorse their opinions and raise a glass to all involved especially Paul Meurisse and Charles Vanel who tend to get lost in the shuffle. 9/10
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8/10
I may be reactionary, but this is absolutely astounding - the legal wife consoling the mistress! No, no, and no!
lastliberal7 June 2009
One cannot imagine a wife (Vera Clouzot) and a mistress (Simone Signoret) knowing each other, much less plotting together to murder the husband (Paul Meurisse), who is abusive, but that is the plot of this thriller that reportedly was snatched from Hitchcock by just 30 minutes. One can imagine it might have been his greatest film, but Henri-Georges Clouzot gets that honor.

It's the common case of the wife who has the money, and the abusive husband that is living off her largess, but doing his own thing (think Christie Brinkley and Peter Cook). Nicole (Signoret) is the strong one, and you might even think there are subtle lesbian intentions here. Christina (Clouzot) wavers constantly in her intentions, but a visit from Michel (Meurisse) and more abuse, firms up her resolve.

They have a good plan, but something happens when they carry it out. They drown the husband in the bathtub and dump him in the school pool. When the pool is drained, no Michel! Then his suit appears from the dry cleaners. A body shows up in the river the next day.

She goes to the morgue to identify him, and meets Colombo. Actually, it is Alfred Finchet (Charles Vanel), but you would swear Peter Falk stole his character from this film. It was not Michel in the morgue!

How does this end? The Director requests that we not tell you. But, the last 15 minutes will astound you.
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9/10
Clever, classy thriller
grantss23 May 2018
Michel Delassalle is the principal of a boarding school, and widely loathed. This loathing extends to his wife, Christina, and his mistress, Nicole Horner, both of whom work at the school. The two of them hatch a plan to murder Mr Delassalle while having the perfect alibi. They carry out the plan...but then his body disappears.

Clever, classy thriller from French director HG Clouzot. Intelligent, intriguing plot and well-drawn characters, the sort of story Agatha Christie or Arthur Conan Doyle would be proud of, and Alfred Hitchcock would love to have directed. Great twist towards the end.

Good direction by Clouzot: he sets the scene well and builds the tension in superb fashion, giving a claustrophobic feeling to proceedings.

Solid performances all round.

A classic thriller.
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