7.1/10
1,730
15 user 15 critic

The Clockmaker of St. Paul (1974)

L'horloger de Saint-Paul (original title)
A Watchmaker finds out one day that his son has become a murderer. He tries to understand for whom and why.

Director:

Bertrand Tavernier

Writers:

Georges Simenon (novel), Jean Aurenche | 2 more credits »
Reviews
4 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Intense character study of men and women driven by an overpowering obsession with the past.

Director: Bertrand Tavernier
Stars: Philippe Noiret, Sabine Azéma, Pascale Vignal
Crime | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

An unstable former French Sergeant commits many atrocities. A judge considers how this case could benefit or damage his career.

Director: Bertrand Tavernier
Stars: Philippe Noiret, Michel Galabru, Isabelle Huppert
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

An elderly painter whose son visits with his family on the weekends, is also surprised by a visit from his still-single daughter.

Director: Bertrand Tavernier
Stars: Louis Ducreux, Michel Aumont, Sabine Azéma
Captain Conan (1996)
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

The war exploits of French captain Conan and his men during World War I and during the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War.

Director: Bertrand Tavernier
Stars: Philippe Torreton, Samuel Le Bihan, Bernard Le Coq
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Daniel is schoolmaster of a kindergarten in a small French town. The local economy, which depended entirely on coal production, has been mired in a depression ever since the mines were ... See full summary »

Director: Bertrand Tavernier
Stars: Philippe Torreton, Maria Pitarresi, Nadia Kaci
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A pathetic police chief, humiliated by everyone around him, suddenly wants a clean slate in life - and resorts to drastic means to do so.

Director: Bertrand Tavernier
Stars: Philippe Noiret, Isabelle Huppert, Stéphane Audran
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

France, 1719. Four years after Louix XIV's death, Philippe d'Orleans is the regent for the nine-year-old Louis XIV. Philippe is a liberal and a libertine. His right-hand man, Dubois, an ... See full summary »

Director: Bertrand Tavernier
Stars: Philippe Noiret, Jean Rochefort, Jean-Pierre Marielle
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Bertrand Tavernier's personal journey through French cinema, from films he enjoyed as a boy to his own early career, told through portraits of key creative figures.

Director: Bertrand Tavernier
Stars: Bertrand Tavernier, François Truffaut, Jean-Paul Gaultier
Lucky Jo (1964)
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Lucky Jo and his three friends are little criminals, who try to live from small burglaries. But they never have luck - ever so often something inpredictable happens to Jo and gets one of ... See full summary »

Director: Michel Deville
Stars: Eddie Constantine, Pierre Brasseur, Georges Wilson
L.627 (1992)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

This gritty police drama shows us the underbelly of the Parisian drug trade. Lulu is a tough streetwise narcotics cop who, like a Frank Serpico or a Dirty Harry Callahan, doesn't play by ... See full summary »

Director: Bertrand Tavernier
Stars: Didier Bezace, Jean-Paul Comart, Charlotte Kady
Fresh Bait (1995)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Three teenagers plan to steal the nessecary funds to open their dream shop in the US, but things get messy.

Director: Bertrand Tavernier
Stars: Marie Gillain, Olivier Sitruk, Bruno Putzulu
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

The setting is the Riviera in autumn. A retired English businessman (Sir Dirk Bogarde) has just been through heart surgery, but it has, apparently, done little to relieve his constant pain ... See full summary »

Director: Bertrand Tavernier
Stars: Dirk Bogarde, Jane Birkin, Odette Laure
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Philippe Noiret ... Michel Descombes - un paisible horloger
Jean Rochefort ... Le commissaire Guilboud
Jacques Denis Jacques Denis ... Antoine - un ami de Michel
Yves Afonso ... L'officer de police Bricard
Julien Bertheau ... Edouard - un ami de Michel
Jacques Hilling Jacques Hilling ... Costes - un journaliste
Clotilde Joano ... Janine Boitard - une journaliste
Andrée Tainsy Andrée Tainsy ... Madeleine Fourmet - qui a élevé Bernard
William Sabatier ... L'avocat
Cécile Vassort ... Martine - une ouvrière
Sylvain Rougerie Sylvain Rougerie ... Bernard Descombes - le fils de Michel
Christine Pascal Christine Pascal ... Liliane Torrini - la compagne de Bernard
Liza Braconnier Liza Braconnier ... La femme de ménage
Hervé Morel Hervé Morel ... Bricard's assistant
Sacha Bauer Sacha Bauer ... Le juge d'instruction
Edit

Storyline

Michel Descombes is a watchmaker in the district of Saint-Paul, Lyons. He lives quietly, alone with his almost grown-up son, Bernard. One day, the police come and say Bernard murdered a FACTORY OWNER. Superintendent Guiboud asks Michel for help. But Michel realizes how little he knows about his son. He also starts to feel he is unable to blame his son. Written by Yepok

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

...a man who would not compromise

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

28 June 1976 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Clockmaker See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Lira Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The little girl on the train at the beginning of the film is Tiffany Tavernier, the filmmaker's daughter. See more »

Crazy Credits

to Jacques Prevert See more »

Connections

Referenced in But Who Raped Linda? (1975) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

What makes Herr D tick?
24 November 2003 | by realreelSee all my reviews

"The Clockmaker" is a minor classic... so great, in fact, that nobody seems to know what to do with it. Why? Perhaps it doesn't fit neatly enough into the crime genre. The first shots are provocative: A child looks out from a train at a burning car. As the opening titles hit the screen, the music crescendoes. We know something bad has just happened; we brace ourselves for the violence to come. The cinematography here has the hard-hitting feel of exposé cinema (e.g., Costa-Gavras' `Z'.) As if leaving its promise unfulfilled, however, this is the film's most dramatic moment. The only violence, as it were, has occurred before the action director Bertrand Tavernier shows us. Much like its principal characters, we are left to contemplate what happened and WHY it took place.

The story is simple enough. Monsieur Decombes, a clockmaker, is interrupted at work by the local police. They inform him that his abandoned car was found by the side of the road, left there by Bernard, his son. Would he accompany them to go see it? Under this pretext, they bring him to the station, where he meets a mysteriously evasive Inspector Guilboud. They return to the vehicle together. Only then does the inspector confront him with the awful truth: Bernard and his girlfriend have killed a man. Decombes is shocked. How could his boy have done it? Throughout the rest of the film, he struggles to understand this hideous crime and his relationship with Bernard, ultimately left with more questions than answers.

Mainstream moviegoers find "The Clockmaker" boring and anticlimactic. They're used to seeing crime flicks with action and plot twists. Here, they know the identity of the murderer from the start, they never see a dead body or an exciting arrest, and 90% of the focus is on the criminal's father. What they're left with is an hour and a half of wayward wanderings... of "character development." What could be more pedestrian? One almost gets the sense that this was the very reason that Tavernier chose to bring Georges Simenon's book to the screen: It's structure is a full inversion of what audiences are used to. This is a point that deserves to be revisited later, as it has a great deal to do with the deeper meanings of this work.

While it won the Prix Louis Delluc, `The Clockmaker' has never been taken seriously by arthouse snobs either. They call its direction `heavy-handed.' They note the over-the-top performances of Philippe Noiret and Jacques Denis (not to mention Yves Afonso. runner-up to Alain Delon in the "too-cool-for-words" competition.) Oddly, they call it `commercial'... a conventional social melodrama. And while it isn't Hollywood melodrama of the Douglas Sirk or Nicholas Ray varieties, there is some validity in this assertion. The definition of `melodrama' describes the film well: `A composition. intended to exhibit a picture of human life, or to depict a series of grave or humorous actions of more than ordinary interest, tending toward some striking result.' And the point of the film is all-too-obvious: Love isn't clockwork.

I've heard `The Clockmaker' compared to many films, including those of the French New Wave that preceded it. Is there any similarity, though, between Tavernier's work and such melodramas as. say. Godard's `Vivre sa vie' or Truffaut's `The Soft Skin'? There isn't. Some have suggested that the film was the model for `The Sweet Hereafter', in that both deal with isolation and the loss of children. Yet, where Egoyan's film is politically neutral to the point of nihilism, `The Clockmaker' outlines a specific set of social conditions that made murder an inevitability. The factory watchman is the avatar for all social-climbing capitalists. abusing his authority toward lecherous ends. Liliane, Bernard's girlfriend, is the powerless victim. Whether or not Bernard pulled the trigger is immaterial. In effect, society has handed him the gun, cocked and loaded.

Personally, I find the film more similar to the work of the New German Cinema. particularly Fassbinder's `Mother Küsters Goes to Heaven.' Both films begin just after murders have been committed. Both films spotlight those who are left behind to deal with loved ones' unspeakable acts. Both films give us radicals and reactionaries, each determined to use the protagonists' woes to political advantage. Ultimately, `The Clockmaker' is the more profound work of the two. It is a true `slice of life' and not the stagy drama that `Mütter Küsters' is. Starting from a conservative stance in its opening scene, in which Decombes and his friends discuss the merits of capital punishment, it turns out to be a liberal piece. Its point, as I see it, is not merely that 'violence begets violence.' True love, in Tavernier's paradigm, comes not from hearing but from listening. not from validation but from understanding. not from making things run like clockwork but from accepting the bumps in the road as part of the journey.


13 of 14 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 15 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed