Inspector Maigret (1958) Poster

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The ultimate Maigret screen adaptation
guy-bellinger18 August 2004
Alongside Molinaro's "La Mort de Belle", the best adaptation of a Simenon story for the big screen.

Helmer Delannoy proves a past master at creating a stifling atmosphere ( night scenes, a hot stormy weather, a heady melody pervading the story ), managing to make the tension rise and swell regularly until it explodes in a triple climax ( Maurice's interrogation, the confrontation of Maurice's wife and mother, the final attempt to murder Mauricette ). So, when the rain finally starts falling in the final seconds of the movie, it does as much good to bulky, weary Gabin as it does to the tense viewer.

Of course, the film benefits from a great interpretation : Jean Gabin gives life to his determined-shrewd-exhausted "commissaire" while Jean Desailly shines as the poor but dangerous Maurice whose boyhood has been prolonged by the misguided love of his mother ( Lucienne Bogaërt, perfect ). And Annie Girardot plays subtly and with welcome restraint the loving wife of a monster.

Sure, Misraki's music and song are haunting and the camera-work is sleek, but what actually makes this film a major work is that the authors( R.M.Arlaud, Delannoy and Audiard ) are true to the spirit of Simenon : disillusioned with human nature but sympathetic with those who are its victims, however monstrous they may appear to society.
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Cristi_Ciopron30 August 2006
Among the less famous movies made by Gabin in his 50s,there are two I love most:Maigret Lays a Trap and The Baron of the Locks;the two have 4 things in common:Gabin,Delannoy,a Simenon adaptation,and Desailly in a supporting role.Maigret Lays a Trap serves also as an access,an introduction to the young Mrs. Girardot's charm and womanhood.

Gabin seems in high spirits and very willing to act and to mold a splendor of an ample role:that of a mammoth police inspector.

The atmosphere is very adequate and fitting.The pace is good,alert,nimbly done.This movie is concise,sharp,practical,each actor is cut out for the part.

Mrs. Girardot was fresh,appetizing,lustful and extremely sexual,she shows finesse and goes far.(Delannoy tasted the womanhood and knew how to make such portraits of women:in The Baron of the Locks,there is the delicious Blanchette Brunoy.It is obvious he had a taste for portraying women.)

"Maigret ..." takes pride in its quartet of actors:Gabin,Mrs. Girardot,Desailly (the director Delannoy would use Desailly again in another Simenon adaptation featuring Gabin:"The Baron of the Locks ") and Ventura in a bit,unimportant part.Hussenot is interesting as "Lagrume". Desailly plays an adipose,slippery, faint-hearted youngster with a psychotic air,a queer customer. Mrs. Girardot is very noticeable and lucent, lurid, luminous.

Maigret tend Un Piège (1958) is the first of the Gabin's "Maigrets",and a relish.Gabin was 54 years when he made this role.Gabin should have made many more such "Maigret" movies,and less trucker roles.The crime movies were seldom honored with an acting so classy.

Jean Delannoy was a very competent,efficient,very pragmatic, intelligent, capable director,and he made some very pleasing Simenon adaptations with Gabin.Delannoy showed up to be a clear-sighted director.(Contrary to what is said by a few,Gabin worked with many good directors,such as Renoir ,Carné,Duvivier,Ophuls,Becker,some of them now despised by nerds.)

I don't seek the Gabin's "Maigrets" for the joys only Simenon's novels can offer;the flicks provide joys of their own.The novels' Maigret is a very different one;Gabin's is tough,brusque,authoritarian,sometimes irascible,gives everybody the ha-ha.This movies are on their own.

Maigret was one of the best Gabin roles,and it is fair that all 3 "Maigret" movies are included in the list of Gabin's 17 "Incontournables". Gabin made one of the best policemen in cinema's history.
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Do not miss this gem!
dbdumonteil2 May 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Jean Delannoy stands as one of the best (if not simply the best)Simenon adapters.In the short space of two years he made two gems ,while the nouvelle vague was insulting him ,and these two gems should not be missed:"Maigret tend un piège" and "Maigret et l'affaire Saint-Fiacre" (1959),both absorbing,both featuring a top-notch cast,both packing a real wallop.The first one is an urban psychological thriller,the second one takes place in the country,in the castle of old aristocrats.

"Maigret tend un piège" is at first sight a serial killer story ,but Simenon is too subtle a writer to be content with that.And I'm sure that Jean Delannoy had seen Julien Duvivier's sensational film noir "voici le temps des assassins "(1956):not only he casts Jean Gabin as Maigret,Gabin who was the hero of Duvivier's movie,but he also uses Lucienne Bogaert ,who was his ex-wife in the same movie.Bogaert portrayed a drug addict abominable criminal in 1956;in Delannoy's film,she is an over possessive mother,proud of his son who could have been a sculptor,a painter,an artist,a genius,had they not thwarted his outstanding gifts.

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS This son is a very complex character masterfully played by Jean Desailly,who probably found his lifetime part here:he's so intense that he will leave you ill-at-ease.He cries,screams ,begs,almost never stops twitching,and his tragic strength is absolutely incredible."Be a man!!!" Gabin shouts ,whereas he's an impotent little boy ,under his mother's thumb.From the very beginning,-and what I write is not really a spoiler- we know he's the killer,Simenon did not write a whodunit,he's more interested in his poor man's psychology whom his mother and his wife -an excellent Annie Girardot- will try to save ,stopping at nothing for that.

The film begins slowly ,but when it hits its stride,after about thirty minutes ,it grabs you till the very end ,with more and more verbal violence.

No,Jean Delannoy is not the mediocre director the nouvelle vague used to despise.
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MAIGRET SETS A TRAP (Jean Delannoy, 1958) ***
Bunuel197622 November 2006
Despite his occasional appearance in the films of major directors like Max Ophuls, Jacques Becker and Jean Renoir, from the 1950s onwards Jean Gabin seemed content to rely simply on his effortlessly charismatic screen persona and elevate an apparently interminable succession of old-fashioned potboilers which, while undeniably enjoyable in themselves, now seem like a regrettable waste of this monumental French film star. Nevertheless, I try not to miss any of his films when they crop up on Italian or French Cable TV channels and, for what it's worth, I've always been on the look-out for at least two of his late 50s films - Claude Autant-Lara's LOVE IS MY PROFESSION (1958; with Brigitte Bardot) and the film under review here.

Anyway, Gabin is perfectly cast as the world-weary Police Inspector who is pondering retirement when the re-emergence of an old nemesis - a serial-killer who stabs lonely brunettes coming home late at night - taunts him back into action with a supremely clever plan to trap the killer, hence the film's title. The film also features in a supporting role the actor who, for all intents and purposes, replaced Gabin in French filmgoers' minds as the brooding action hero, Lino Ventura, but it's Annie Girardot (as a neglected but ultimately self-sacrificing wife) and Jean Desailly (as her impotent, mother-fixated artist husband) who leave the best impression in the crowded supporting cast.

Jean Gabin would go on to appear as Inspector Maigret in 2 subsequent films - MAIGRET ET L' AFFAIRE SAINT-FIACRE (1959; which I've caught up with a couple of years ago) and MAIGRET VOIS ROUGE (1963) - and work a further 5 times with director Delannoy (including the afore-mentioned second Maigret film); interestingly enough, Delannoy himself would abandon his own artistic aspirations shown earlier in two major French films of the 1940s - L'ETERNEL RETOUR (1943) and LA SYMPHONIE PASTORALE (1946) - to concentrate on modest genre offerings (of which MAIGRET SETS A TRAP is the best-known and probably best overall as well) for the rest of his career.

Inspector Maigret is celebrated French pulp writer Georges Simenon's most famous literary creation and had previously been portrayed on the screen by Pierre Renoir in one of his brother Jean's most elusive films, NIGHT AT THE CROSSROADS (1932), and also by the great Charles Laughton in Burgess Meredith's intriguing directorial outing, THE MAN IN THE EIFFEL TOWER (1950) - neither of which I've watched alas - and would go on to be impersonated by a variety of formidable character actors among them Rupert Davies, Gino Cervi and Michael Gambon for TV!
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Mystery, suspense, intrigue with terrific performance Jean Gavin-Maigret investigating the murderer's identity
ma-cortes17 July 2008
As always, this film occurs in Paris, there happen a murders series. One the night of the killing a butcher is the suspect, detective Maigret(the great Jean Gavin) becomes involved into investigation and pulls off a cat and mouse game with the killer. Maigret leaving false clues and a false murderer. Meanwhile is developed a pursuit through the Paris slums, in order to chase the killer, getting a button. Appear new suspects, as a strange woman(Annie Girardot, one of the most known French actress of the 60s) and her spouse(Jean Desailly, recently deceased). Maigret is helped by his underlings(Lino Ventura, in very secondary role , among them). The obstinate inspector winds up pitting rival against each other in order to destroy him in a stirring interrogation.

The picture displays thriller,tension, twists plots and is quite entertaining , though some moments is slow moving. Interesting and exciting battle of wits between intelligent detective and quirky villain. The story explores the dynamics of pathological behaviour and very much in the style of psychoanalytic descriptions fitting fairly to George Simenon novels. Casting is frankly outstanding. Jean Gavin as stubborn detective is top-notch, Jean Desailly as maniac-depressive husband is magnificent, he's tremendously affected into the deeps of human desperation. Annie Girardot as a predatory and manipulating beauty woman and Lino Ventura who was one of the best French actors from the 60s and 70s. Awesome cinematography by Page who reflects splendidly the Paris streets, though mostly made in studios. The motion picture is rightly directed by Jean Delannoy. The film is based on George Simenon legendary detective who is adapted at several cinematic rendition and TV series. As Maigret was played by Basil Sidney( The lost life,TV, 59) Gino Cervi(Maigret in Pigalle,67), Rupert Davies(series from 60s), Richard Harris(TV, 1988), Michael Gambon(TV,1993), Sergio Castellitto(2004). But specially by Jean Gavin who also played 'Maigret and the St Fiacre case(59)'. In Hollywood(1949) was realized by Burguess Meredith 'The man on the Eiffel tower'with Charles Laughton as Maigret. Rating : Good and worth watch checking out. The movie will like to Jean Gabin fans and intrigue lovers but contains a highly suspenseful.
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Tiger hunt has nuance
Jean Gabin plays Inspector Maigret here in a role that I find him quite matched to. I always figured him as fitting kindly roles after watching him play gangsters so often (the French have had an ambivalent, occasionally adulatory disposition towards gangsters judging from their domestic movie output, which perhaps makes these roles for Gabin less of a clang for them - perhaps this is similar to our English views of Robin Hood and Dick Turpin!).

I came to this movie via an interest in director Jean Delannoy. Even though it appears to be a very commercial project he's helming on behalf of a studio, rather than a more obviously auteur-driven piece such as "L'Eternel Retour", there are perhaps significant parallels with his other work. Delannoy, I believe, was preoccupied with matters Oedipal, definitely by family conflict of the dysfunctional variety, and you can see this, for example, in "La Symphonie Pastorale", where a father and son both fall in love with the same woman, also in "L'Eternel Retour" with the damaged Achille, spoiled by his parents, and in "Macao, enfer de jeu", where Ying Tchaï's entire life is concealed from the daughter he dotes on.

Whilst Maigret Sets a Trap is about, "la chasse au tigre", or a tiger hunt, with the Marais killer being the tiger, there's also a story of inter-generational abuse that's powerful and fascinating. I felt I learnt several lessons whilst watching the movie, particularly about the power of jealousy to provoke extravagant paranoias (under which lie quite delicate realities) and how the truth is often more human than you think, also about temperance (Maigret makes a joke about being unable to obtain attractive partners), and appearances. I'm fascinated about private versus public realities, ever since seeing Paul Klee's beautiful series of "Der Komiker" ("The Comedian") etchings as a teenager. These show men wearing masks that look like faces, and you can see the real, quite different, faces behind. In this movie there's a huge divide between persona and the repressed and crippled personalities behind them.

Today's audiences may find that Jean Desailly (Marcel Maurin) overacts, but I think Delannoy is far cleverer than is often given credit for, and provides his own commentary on the style of acting in the movie, when Maigret is at pains to instruct a con on how to act to the press.

I think I fell in love with this movie, because I was never really sure where it was going, and there's some dirty thoughts to be had if you get inside the paranoia. There's also not many movies where you have such a human detective, who even conducts a late night interview with his undone belt surrounding a bulging belly. The ending is quite iconic in its own way, and rounded off a charming watch.
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Who's your favourite Maigret?
brogmiller20 December 2019
This is the first of three films in which Georges Simenon's marvellous creation Jules Maigret is played by Jean Gabin. Rather plodding initially and resembling a standard 'policier', it takes on a new dimension and becomes totally absorbing with the appearance of Annie Girardot, Jean Desailly and Lucienne Bogaert all of whom are fantastic. In the title role Gabin's screen presence is undeniable but he is far more effective in his quieter moments than when called upon to emote. The ubiquitous Michel Audiard contributes dialogue which is always a plus whilst Louis Page is behind the camera as he was for the two subsequent films. Excellent score by Paul Misraki. At almost two hours it is a wee bit long for a whodunnit but one's interest is sustained by a brilliant cast and superb editing by Henri Taverna. Director Jean Delannoy has served Simenon well by concentrating on the psychological complexity of the characters.. The same director teamed up with Gabin the following year for 'Maigret et L'Affaire Saint-Fiacre' in which Gabin's portrayal is mellower and is ably supported by Valentine Tessier and Michel Auclair. The rest of the cast however is strictly 'B'. Five years were to elapse before 'Maigret voit Rouge' for director Gilles Grangier with whom Gabin made no less than twelve films! Despite some interesting 'types' this is basically one Maigret too far and nothing more than a mediocre gangster movie. We all have our favourite Maigret of course and mine happens to be Harry Bauer. Apparently Simenon himself favoured Rupert Davis!? Oh well, fools give you reasons, wise men never try'!
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Thoroughly enjoyable!
sambson13 December 2018
I delight in a good detective story and have seen numerous Film & TV versions of the same stories. In this case we're speaking of cases, which are for me; fantastic versions of Maigret. Gabin plays the character in such a vibrantly nuanced manner, as that of a man who is measured, but very engaged in walking the streets and getting into the nitty gritty of each case. The relationship with his wife has less to do with smiles and more to do with a woman who bursts any notional bubble he's caught in, with unpretentious aplomb. And the cases themselves are so much more detailed, complex and true to Simenon's originals than some other adaptations; especially shorter length episodes for TV. Of course, Simenon himself preferred Rupert Davies portrayal over the dozen or so other attempts. But for me this was thoroughly enjoyable!
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Sweaty August nights in Paris
bob99818 August 2014
This year was devoted to deepening my appreciation of Simenon's works; this is the best film version of his novels. From the first scene, with a nervous Insp. Lagrume trying to keep abreast of a violent confrontation in the Place des Vosges--the fourth killing by a sadistic serial killer--to the ending with Lagrume again trying to curry favour with an exasperated Maigret, this film held me spellbound. The acting is superb: Gabin has his best role since the glory days with Renoir in the 30's, Desailly is extraordinary as the wretched Maurin, pulled by mother and wife both and hating it, Annie Girardot is wonderfully sensual and determined as the young wife, and Lucienne Bogaert plays the mother from Hell with the greatest skill. The hatred the two women have for each other is palpable. All the supporting players turn in fine work, especially Gerard Sety as Jojo the gigolo who manages to stir the emotions of Yvonne Maurin, for a while at least.

It seems there is no general Region 1 release for this film; that's a real shame. I found a cheap knockoff without special features in a cutout bin in Montreal. Please let's have a proper reissue.
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Best adaption of Simenon
franzgehl8 July 2001
Maigret is looking after a women killer in Paris. It's the occasion to see some places from the old Paris. Jean Gabin is really fit for the role of Maigret. Hopefully it's not a movie where the whole action takes place in a police office. In that film you can also see a young beginner named Lino Ventura.
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M like Maigret...
ElMaruecan8225 May 2020
It's a hot summer in Paris while a mysterious killer is plaguing the serene joie de vivre of Montmartre district making victims out of women who have in common (besides the misfortune of being at the wrong place at the wrong moment of the night) to be young and plump brunettes. The film opens with a murder that recalls the beginning of the mother of all psychological thrillers: "M" and there's more that justifies the comparison.

Jean Delannoy's "Maigret Sets a Trap" is a fine example of a police procedural film that gets three things right: first, it perfectly conveys the atmosphere of an impending danger whose motivations -we rapidly suspect- are rooted in the mire of human psyche, secondly, the villain isn't just an antagonist but the subject of a character study that unveils the sleaziest and most sordid expressions of hubris and finally, the film lies on the broad shoulders of a great and iconic protagonist in the person of Jules Maigret, the 'French' Sherlock Holmes, created by Belgian writer George Simenon.

A few words about Maigret: the Chief Inspector is a robust-looking, well-built man with a reassuring physique and a sort of detached attitude that allows him to be more perceptive of little details surrounding him, he's a man who takes his time, follows his instinct, and tries to identify hints about the assassin's profile as insistently as if they were tangible evidence. He's a man who can nonchalantly wonders across a busy street to test the waters and gather clues from the mere sight of playful kids or noisy vendors. He's not alone in this job, he has various subordinates (one is played by Lino Venture) whose mission can consist of walking in the screen and fishing potential suspects out of shoals of onlookers.

I make his approach methodical but it isn't, Maigret built enough experience not to let himself distracted by bureaucracy, he can enter a house without a warrant considering it's up to the suspect to know the rules. He handles information as if they're no big deal, encouraging the suspect to go on without arousing any suspicion on his side, "may I see your wardrobe?" "did you have a key?" innocent questions whose purpose is to grab facts that can eventually be contradicted by subtle cross-examinations. There's something fascinating in the way Maigret handles the investigation, even when we suspect he's not fooled by the criminal's identity, let alone his psychological profile, he still acts with the potential killer as a simple civil servant concerned by red tape issues.

There's no doubt in my mind that Gabin was born to play Maigret, the actor, in the second part of his career, had the quiet strength of the experienced man, who knows when to speak, when to listen and when to let his authoritarian voice erupt in a few occasions. Gabin was perfect to play characters who didn't need to rise their voice to obtain what they wanted and knew when to use it to finally get the confession, a man in total control of the situation even when it could get out of control. Gabin trusts his competence and knows that his instinct would only half fool him and half the way to the killer goes through the fatal weakness he'll be able to spot. He can tell from an anonymous letter that there's a big ego behind the assassin, one that would bite on the right bait.

Basically, the film is composed of three acts: Maigret sets the trap that fulfills its purpose in extremis, then there's the investigation where Maigret asks questions between Montmartre and Les Rosiers and the film's climax consists of interrogation scenes that are as riveting and absorbing as the classic "Garde à Vue" by Claude Miller: Maigret in his office, Maigret outside and Maigret in the interrogation room. And at that point of the review I must mention that, in her earliest roles, Annie Girardot delivers a great subdued performance as a bourgeois woman bored by her effeminate husband Jean Desailly, equally superb as the Mama's boy who's been so pampered by her mother he developed a strong aversion to the female persuasion. Both actors would be nominated for the BAFTA Awards.

There's a great study of French manhood in that early urban setting of the 50s that might echo the post-war atmosphere film noir. France was a country that was both defeated at the end of the war and yet had its honor saved by the great De Gaulle, a country whose citizens accepted the patronizing and infantilizing tone of Pétain telling them to surrender to Germany for their own good and yet where a handful of fighters decided to maintain the fight. It's one of France's tragic ironies to have invented the world 'Resistance' and be forever associated with 'surrendering'. In that confrontation between Maigret and the suspect, there's the collision of these two sides of French manhood, the old-school and principled citizen and the wimp who accepts defeat and yet doesn't have the guts to assume it. This is why you can't totally disconnect the film from a certain view of France and the way social classes can condition ethical choices, that the killer is highly educated says a lot about a certain defiance toward the upper class man.

There's more in "Maigret" than a formulaic police movie: behind the investigation, there's a study on mores of its time, it's a rather disenchanting and heavy-loaded portrait of a moral decadence and the way men have lost their way, and when the film ends with that sudden rain, we feel as relieved as Maigret who chooses to walk alone on the street as if he felt even the police couldn't triumph over all the filth and evil that eat away the people and maybe a good rain will watch some of it.

The first opus of the "Maigret" saga is a gem of French popular cinema... with an assumed populist undertone.
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Maigret fume une pipe
madmonkmcghee11 November 2012
Watching this movie you understand why young French filmmakers of that time were desperate to develop a new movie language. It's a prime example of what they derisively called "Cinema du Papa", as in stuffy and dated. Indeed this movie might as well have been made in 1938 instead of 1958. It's set-bound, slow-moving and talky, with stock characters and predictable plot twists. The atmosphere it evokes is hardly that of a bustling metropolis, more a provincial backwater with outdated attitudes towards women and artists. It seems to aim at an audience who weren't at all interested in jazz or existentialism, and who still saw Picasso as a third-rate con artist. Women should take care of their husbands, like Mrs. Maigret, ready to supply him with his pipe and slippers and serve his soup. And real men should choose manly professions, like butcher, or they can turn out pathetic mummy's boys. Or worse.....Less critical viewers may enjoy this as a pleasant policier from a bygone age with a competent performance by the legendary Jean Gabin. Me for one am glad the New Wave of French filmmakers was already waiting in the wings to clear out the cobwebs.
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A superb Simenon adaptation which is less a thriller and more a collection of perfectly observed human vignettes
mdjedovic19 August 2021
Based on one of Georges Simenon's most exciting novels, "Maigret Sets a Trap" is a classy and suspenseful, but most of all intelligent movie about the battle of nerves between two proud men. A serial killer proud enough to taunt the police and a policeman proud enough not to like being laughed at.

The plot is kicked into gear during a lovely morning scene between Commissaire Maigret (Jean Gabin) and his wife (Jeanne Boitel). He's tired having worked all night, she's tireless seeing how she'll be working all day. All the papers carry the news about the latest handiwork of the Marais Killer - his fourth. "He must be thinking," observes Mme Maigret, "I'm the king". "You believe he really thinks that way," asks Maigret, bothered by the idea of a serial killer gloating under his nose. "If he's at all proud, he must be pleased with himself," she replies, not knowing she's just given her husband a devilish idea. In a wonderfully captured moment of warmth, he jokes with his wife. "Say, there's a big brain under those rollers". Mme Maigret doesn't laugh.

Maigret's idea is this: He'll have a number of highly trained policewomen patrol the Marais area undercover. When the killer inevitably pounces on one, she'll make the arrest. It's a dangerous trap, dangerous enough to make all of Maigret's colleagues and bosses shudder, but with enough chance of working for them to let him try it. At his own discretion, of course.

The trap doesn't quite work as planned but it leads Maigret into the home of Marcel Maurin (Jean Desailly), a self-professed architect-decorator. A bit of both and a bit of neither. Untrained but an artist at heart... or something like that. What he is, without a doubt, though is a child in a man's body with lively eyes filled with childish glee. Glee about what? Maigret's unannounced visit shakes him up, though. Enough to shout at his wife in an argument which unusually enough leaves him in tears.

Not that Maigret is only interested in Marcel. His wife, the young and frustrated Yvonne (Annie Girardot) is hard to overlook. A bundle of nerves, at the same time emotional and distant, as if lost in thoughts of unattainable desires. She claims to have spent the night of one of the murderers in bed with her lover. "He cheats on me," she says of her husband, "I was filled with an idiotic fury and I wanted to take revenge. Pay him in kind." But is she telling the truth? Is the childish Marcel capable of such an act? Like a complete inversion of her husband, Yvonne looks like a child, wide-eyed and awkward, but her soul is old, old and tired.

Finally, there's the mother, the formidable widow Maurin (Lucienne Bogaert) and it only takes a few moments in her presence to see how she's the reason for her son's childishness. She's one of those mothers who always wear skirts large enough for their adult sons to hide under. She keeps her artist son's juvenalia framed on the walls of her large apartment. "He painted this when he was 12," she says to Maigret as if the painting doesn't look exactly like it was painted by a 14-year old. "He would have been a great artist if they'd let him persist". Always the mysterious them - the them who've ruined her child's immeasurable talent. At the same time, as she praises her son, she scoffs at her husband. "He was neither good nor bad. He was a butcher." In this case, it seems Jocasta murdered Laius herself.

"Maigret Sets a Trap" is nominally a mystery but it's the precisely observed characters that make it a wonderful experience. Note, for instance, the superb scene in which Maigret interviews a gigolo (Gérard Séty) about a woman who turned him down. "Why are you whispering," asks Maigret. "I'd rather not spread this around. It's not good publicity," replies the harried lover.

There are so many similarly wonderful and witty vignettes in this film it would be impossible to list them all. This is the only Simenon adaptation I've ever seen that is as observant as the great author's novels. This is doubtlessly down to writer/director Jean Delannoy who does an impressive job on both counts. His script is witty and admirably easy to follow despite the many characters and leisurely pace. His direction is taut, artful but unfussy, interesting but not distracting. Although marketed as such, this is not really a thriller, not in the classic sense of the word. It is a masterfully observed human drama, a study in warped psychology but Delannoy dresses it into a suspenseful film with admirable ease. The thriller elements are like sugar to help the bitter pill go down.

The performances are uniformly excellent. Jean Gabin in particular gives a flawless portrayal of a man worn out by the horrors he sees every day. There's great tiredness in him, in the way he moves, the way he plops down into chairs, and the way he quietly interrogates his suspects like a man who's absolutely sure they'll crack. After all, he's seen it before so, so many times. Harry Baur may be a more letter-perfect Maigret, but Gabin is by far the most convincing as a highly experienced French copper.

His team consists of Olivier Hussenot as the eager and comical Lagrume, Lino Ventura as the bullish Torrence and André Valmy as the dependable Lucas. Delannoy lets us into their little tricks of the trade in a series of delectable scenes set in the police station. The way they drive a suspect mad by continually asking him for his mother's maiden name is both hilarious and utterly authentic. It's the kind of realism that shows like "The Wire" so fascinating to watch.

Finally, there are the Maurins. A trio of pitch-perfect performances. Jean Desailly is alternatingly annoying and chilling as the spoiled man-child and Lucienne Bogaert despicable as his overbearing mother. Annie Girardot, meanwhile, manages to elicit even some sympathy as the woman caught in between. Her haunted, expressive eyes say more than a thousand words ever could.

If I had anything negative to say about "Maigret Sets a Trap" it would only be that it is a tad too long, though I'd have no idea what to cut. Every second of it is so perfectly observed and depicted. It is also a shame that it wasn't shot on location. Even though René Renoux's sets are convincing reproductions, their inherent staginess takes a little away from the realism of the film.

But these flaws are so minor, they aren't really worth mentioning. "Maigret Sets a Trap" is a perfect Simenon adaptation in tone, pace, and psychology. It is less of a thriller and more of a collection of perfectly observed human vignettes. With superb performances, atmospheric direction, and a beautiful melody composed by Paul Misraki tying it all together, this is a film that absolutely must be seen.
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Methodical Parisian whodunit....maybe too methodical
gridoon202126 July 2021
Well-plotted, well-made, well-acted (Jean Gabin is commanding as Maigret, a young and beautiful Annie Girardot is magnificent, and there are other good peripheral roles), but excessively talky and simply way overlong at 114 minutes. **1/2 out of 4.
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Maigret wisely imposes a grueling psychological game!!!
elo-equipamentos23 April 2020
According my files I did watch Inspector Maigret in 1995, however with Richard Harris, a British production of 1988, the French I never hear before, this month came out a Box-Set of three Jean Gabin's Maigret, the picture surprise me deeply, I was expecting something alike Poirot concept, nevertheless is quite unequal, Maigret is more human, fallible, he was in trouble after a serial killer has been stabbed four women on same pattern at Paris low district, under pressure by superior authorities Maigret undertakes a high stakes, he decides assemble a bolded plan, firstly he offers a phony suspect, also scattered several women as bait on the district, a task force is formed to cover all narrow streets, the killer fall into a trap, however got escape unscathed, meanwhile the set-up had a clue, starting this point Maigret has something at sight, fabulous picture with a proper casting as Annie Giradot, Jean Desaily and the incredible Lino Ventura on small role, Maigret imposes a grueling psychological game to get a confession of the alleged killer on stifling atmosphere, he follows his instincts, a great photography on dark neighhood of old Paris!!


First watch: 2020 / How many: 1 / Source: DVD / Rating: 8
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