Deadlier Than the Male (1956) Poster

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Film noir extraordinaire!
dbdumonteil2 August 2005
This Duvivier gem is the definitive proof that the FRench cinema was not moribund in the late fifties.Julien Duvivier,the master of the film noir French style ("Pepe le Moko" was a strong influence on the American film noir),outdoes himself and gives his last masterpiece ."Voici le temps des assassins " outdistances all former works ,it's really the apex of evil.

Danielle Delorme 's character is one of the most perverse you can see on a screen:she almost makes us forget Jean Simmons in "Angel Face" .This girl is perversity flesh on the bone.Is she a victim (of her education? her sad background?)Delorme told in an interview that her part was "much too much",that she probably had excuses,that she probably suffered during her childhood: terse answer by the director:"evil people are evil,period." Duvivier's world is thoroughly noir:the three old women who are featured in the movie are evil too.

Germaine Kerjean's character is even more terrifying than the false ingenue :not only she probably broke her son's marriage (Gabin) but she has also continued to dominate him.When Gabin introduces her to Catherine,she simply says with a threatening smile :"she has a chilling way about her" ;actually this reply turns the audience 's heart into ice.this old shrew is sadistic to a fault:you should see her behead her chickens in her guinguette (cafe where you dance on the banks of the Seine)!You should see her thrash her daughter-in-law,yelling,when the whip comes down :"that will knock you into shape!!" Catherine's mother(Lucienne Bogaert) is a slut,the ugliest woman you have ever met,destroyed by alcohol and drugs .She epitomizes decay.She urges her daughter to kill her husband -who was also his twenty years ago-,and the way she plans the murder,lavishly detailed ,makes your flesh creep.

And there is Gabin's housekeeper (Gabrielle Fontan),a hypocrite spinster who never found love and thus is jealous of Catherine,who is young and beautiful.she moves in the house like a snake ,always on the look-out for some gossips about Catherine,the intruder.

The action takes place in three places: 1)Gabin's restaurant in Les Halles,now a thing of the past,where the scenarists take a slap at the Americans -who are far from being gourmets- and the dogs (there's humor in this somber story).

2)Catherine's junkie mother's room ,in a seedy house near decay,where she spins her web.

3)Her mother-in-law's guinguette,turned into a living hell by the owner.

The characters move from one place to another,as an almost unbearable tension rises and takes all the characters in a bloody violent final by the misty banks of a glittering Seine.

This movie contains scenes that will leave you at the edge of your seat,even 50 years after:Kerjean,whipping with an intense pleasure;Gerard's (Gerard Blain) murder in the night down by the Seine;His dog,barking at a scared to death Catherine.Sincerely,I've seen lots and lots of FRench movies,but few (if any) come close to this one when it comes to depicting wickedness ,greed and perversity.

Once dismissed as "pre nouvelle vague trash" "voici le temps des assassins -looked upon as a masterpiece by Bertrand Tavernier,one of the masters of the contemporary French cinema - has since been restored to favor by a whole generation of viewers (its IMDb rating is currently 7,6!Thanks to the users!)and critics (Jacques Lourcelles notably).

Claude Chabrol and Bertrand Tavernier love this film.

Watch "Voici le temps des assassins" at all costs!!!!
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Justice is finally meted out by a dog! Verging on horror !
nicholas.rhodes8 September 2004
Warning: Spoilers
This film, remastered and released in France June 1st, 2016 on Blu- ray + DVD by Pathé with a choice of English or French Subtitles is a very good all-rounder cinematographically speaking. First we have the wailing theme song sung by Germaine Montero accompanied by a shivery solo accordion. The picture quality, though black and white, is excellent and the sets themselves are the epitome, for the Paris region at least, of French popular culture.

First and foremost we have a long disappeared part of Paris, the Halles market, called "le ventre de Paris" or the belly of Paris due to its being the source of nourishment for most of the Parisians. The atmosphere of this area is extremely well rendered and we see various characters typical of the day, and notably a few "forts" or strong men, so called because they used to lug around day in and day out huge carcasses of meat upon their shoulders. Many years ago, Les Halles was transferred out of Paris to Rungis in the suburbs and the gaping hole that was left after the removal of the four "pavillons" or market buildings has today been filled with a shopping mall called the "Forum des Halles" but which has little to do with the original market building. One of the original pavillons was saved and re-erected at Nogent-sur-Marne in the suburbs, not far from the Marne river and is used for dances and other meetings.

The second aspect of parisian culture is the guingette or dance Hall on the banks of the Marne river owned by Gabin's mother. It is set quite a way out at Lagny-sur-Marne. We see various characters of the time and hear the accordion music to which millions danced the "java", "valse musette" and other typically parisian popular dances.

The third aspect is the seedy room in the Hôtel du Charolais in which lives the supposedly deceased mother of Danièle Delorme and where the final horror takes place.

The film was made by Julien Duvivier ( cf La Belle Equipe ) who was a master of a certain type of french film called "film noir", a pessimistic type of film with a gloomy unpromising ending, what the French call "une fin sans concession".

The film is extremely well acted. Gabin is between two ages, not the young impetuous character from La Belle Equipe nor the older patriarch character from "La Horse" ou "Le Clan des Siciliens". I think he is supposed to be in his mid fifties, perhaps as he was in real life and comes over EXCELLENTLY as a restaurant owner. Delorme, who had an angelic face but an evil character beyond all imagination turns up as the daughter of his estranged wife saying her mother is dead and asking Gabin to look after her. All this is a devilish plot fomented between her and her mother, who is still alive, to marry Gabin for his money and then dispose of him. Gabin is so good-natured that he doesn't see this at first and takes Delorme at face value to the point of even turning against his own adoptive sun. Delorme is extremely evil to the point of playing one off against the other - when you see her at it you want to wring her neck ! - but a certain number of fateful slip-ups will be made along the way and she will come a cropper in conformity with the outcome of this 'film noir". She not only precipitates one of her former lovers to his death but also kills Gabin's adopted sun with a coldness which can only be described as totally psychotic !!

Although Delorme and her mother are evil, they are not alone. Gabin's mother, who runs the guingette in Lagny is a cold domineering character who has an inventive way of killing chickens - with a whiplash - quite a nifty idea on the part of Duvivier I thought - and this same whiplash is used to good effect on Delorme at one moment in the film.

There is also a servant woman, extremely ugly and shrivelled-up who is poking her nose into everyone else's affairs. All this goes to show that, bar Gabin and his adoptive son, most of the other characters in the film are real scum and the spectator can have no sympathy with them at all. It's just a shame to see someone as nice as Gabin being taken in.

The final justice is meted out to Delorme not by Gabin as we might expect but by the dog belonging to his murdered son who no doubt "smelled" out his killer. An excellent way of getting Gabin off the hook, and in fact causing more panic in Delorme's eyes than if she had been threatened by a man !

I have no idea whether the film is known outside France ( like Les Diaboliques ) but it certainly merits the attention of anyone who is interested in good French cinema of the "Film Noir" type. More than that it is a living documentary of Paris in 1959 and is a must for those across the world who love that city !
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I can't believe...
didierfort5 August 2013
No, I can't believe that this film only get 3 users reviews, 419 voters, and not even one topic on its message board! It is one of the four immortal masterpieces —along with "Pépé le Moko", "La fin du jour" and "Panique"— of an immortal master, Julien Duvivier.

All in there is at the very top (and even the over-the-top is at the top!).

A clockwork scenario, the sharp dialogues, a cinematography like they knew how to make. And the best own's performances for Jean Gabin, Danièle Delorme, Lucienne Bogaert.

See it! Watch Duvivier's movies! Vive le cinéma!

Didier_fort at
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Masterpiece of French Film Noir
happytrigger-64-39051718 October 2017
Only 6 reviews for that pure Masterpiece of French Film Noir, direct in my top 5 ("Les Diaboliques" have 160 reviews and "Non Coupable" has only 2 reviews (?)(another pure masterpiece of French Film Noir with Michel Simon at his best, in my top 5 of course). Everything has been said by other bright reviewers, I just confirm you cannot forget that sick darkness of the characters. Impossible, printed forever in your mind.
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"Better a widow than a divorcée."
morrison-dylan-fan13 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
With most of the family on holiday,I realised that I could catch-up on some long awaited viewings. Reading excellent comments on the title from fellow IMDber dbdumonteil,I decided to discover how much deadlier auteur Julien Duvivier could make things.

The plot:

Divorced from his wife Gabrielle for over 20 years, André Chatelin has poured his heart and soul into becoming the greatest chef in Paris,with even the President going for regular meals at Chatelin's café. Whilst clearing up,Catherine walks in. Not having seen Gabrielle's for over 20 years,Catherine reveals to Chatelin that she has recently died,and that she herself is Gabrielle's daughter. Bringing Catherine into the business, Chatelin starts finding Catherine placing romantic feelings on him. Whilst Chatelin takes everything at face value,Catherine starts cooking up a scheme that will reveal her to be deadlier than the male.

View on the film:

Opening with a crane shot sweeping up the streets of Paris, co- writer/(with Charles Dorat/Maurice Bessy and Pierre-Aristide Bréal) directing auteur Julien Duvivier & Henri-Georges Clouzot's regular cinematographer Armand Thirard pull the viewer into the dirty side streets with a glistening "evil under the flames" aura being cooked up in the kitchen between Chatelin and Catherine, which spills over in dazzling pre-French New Wave outdoor shooting,which gives Chatelin's battles for Catherine an on the spot urgency. Served in just under two hours, Duvivier grills his unique Film Noir style with a rich canvas of lingering murky shadows and transfixing tracking shots,which sway on the pessimism seeping into Chatelin's "image" of Catherine.

Giving the viewer the opportunity to taste Chatelin's Noir meals,the screenplay by Duvivier/Bessy and Bréal fully explore the relationships in brilliantly subtle gestures,via the almost- son/dad bond between Chatelin and Gérard Delacroix breaking down into Noir loners fighting in the streets,and Catherine's humble,pristine image being chipped away to unveil the heart of a Femme Fatale. Keeping her real hand out of sight,the writers smartly spend the first hour threading a bond between Catherine and Chatelin that shines with some glimpses of sincere love,which wilts away into the Noir tar that Catherine tries to keep out of Chatelin's sight.

Shimmering into Chatelin's kitchen, Danièle Delorme gives an exquisite performance as Catherine,whose Femme Fatale mind games are given an earthy veneer by Delorme that tug at the heart strings of Chatelin,and shake up the Angry Young Man tension within Gérard. Giving his exchanges with Gérard (played by a great Gérard Blain) a parental warmth,Jean Gabin gives an extraordinary performance as Chatelin. Constantly seeing the burnt embers of past romantic relationships,Gabin catches the youthful excitement that surrounds Chatelin in a new romance,but is unable to escape the Noir loner wriggling unease that Catherine has a hidden side that is about to steam up.
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No Time To Kill? Make Some And Check Out This Gem
writers_reign28 October 2005
When you post as many comments on this site as I do the Law of Averages dictates that you receive a certain amount of feedback in the form of PMs and I guess I've had my share both pro and con. A little over a year ago I posted a comment on a French film made during the war and largely forgotten certainly outside France. Shortly after it appeared a received a PM from a French guy who was very pleased that someone had mentioned this film. Since that time we corresponded spasmodically then out of the blue he wrote and asked if I would like him to tape any French films from French TV and if so which. Naturally I jumped at the chance and asked for anything directed by Henri Decoin, Julian Duvivier, Claude Autant-Lara and anything written by Jean Aurenche, Pierre Bost, Charles Spaak, Henri Jeanson and Jacques Prevert and the upshot is I have just received several great French movies including this late masterpiece by Julian Duvivier. I won't reveal the guy's name lest he is inundated with those both anxious and willing to trespass on his kindness but I am delighted to use this forum to record what positives can come from IMDb which has, alas, many things wrong with it. Now for the movie. There are those who may find it referential - Gabin's mother runs a dance hall on the banks of the Marne and a decade earlier Gabin himself as one of Duvivier's Belle Equipe built a similar establishment in a similar location; In Rene Clair's Le Silence est d'Or a young girl prevailed on an older man to take her in and here Daniel Delorme prevails on the older Gabin in much the same way - but not to its detriment. Gabin runs a restaurant in Les Halles, the wonderful market in Paris which has gone the way of London's Covent Garden but which was very much alive in 1956 when this film was made, he's a genial sort, always ready to see the good in people rather than the worst so when Delorme, the daughter of his estranged wife, turns up claiming orphan status he is happy to take her in despite the fact that he has an adoptive son already. Of course the mother is not really dead and Delorme is not half so naive or angelic as she lets on; we get our first glimpse of her darker/colder side when she coolly rejects an old lover and watches dispassionately as he throws himself under a camion, barely registering the impact before hurrying to a rendezvous with her very much alive and drink and drug-raddled mother where they fine tune plans to seduce Gabin and divvy up his money. The black and white photography complements the story perfectly and reminds us at times of that other classic Les Diaboliques and there are some lovely touches like Gabin's mother's mastery of a whip which she uses with equal dexterity for despatching chickens and chastising Delorme. In short this is one of the finest films that ever got right up Truffaut's nose and if only he'd tried to make something one tenth as good instead of slagging off these films we'd all have been a lot happier. Not to be missed.
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Delorme is only too convincing in her role
christopher-underwood6 March 2015
This opens in stunning fashion, with amazing panning shots of Paris' Les Halles in full and glorious flow in the 50s. Parisians must look now at London's Covent Garden development and wonder just what they did to their own central market. Back on screen, the fine sequences continue inside Jean Gabin's busy and successful restaurant, with great movement and sense of excitement. Both Gabin and Daniele Delorme are most effective as the narrative develops but it is a familiar tale and Delorme is only too convincing in her role to deceive just about everyone, seemingly for love but in reality, of course, for dosh. a surprising whipping scene and some scenes of real tension towards the end but this is french and overlong without too many surprises.
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