17 user 25 critic

Just Before Nightfall (1971)

Juste avant la nuit (original title)
PG | | Crime, Drama | 31 March 1971 (France)
Charles Masson, an advertising executive, is having an affair with Laura, the wife of his best friend, the architect François Tellier. Charles strangles Laura when one of their S&M games ... See full summary »


Claude Chabrol


Edouard Atiyah (novel), Claude Chabrol
Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Michel Bouquet ... Charles Masson
Stéphane Audran ... Hélène Masson
François Périer ... François Tellier
Jean Carmet ... Jeannot
Dominique Zardi Dominique Zardi ... Prince
Henri Attal Henri Attal ... Cavanna
Paul Temps Paul Temps ... Bardin
Daniel Lecourtois ... Dorfmann
Clelia Matania ... Mme Masson (as Clélia Matania)
Celia Celia ... Jacqueline
Pascal Gillot Pascal Gillot ... Auguste Masson
Brigitte Périn Brigitte Périn ... Joséphine Masson
Marcel Gassouk Marcel Gassouk ... Barman
Anna Douking Anna Douking ... Laura Tellier
Roger Lumont Roger Lumont ... Commissaire Delfeil


Charles Masson, an advertising executive, is having an affair with Laura, the wife of his best friend, the architect François Tellier. Charles strangles Laura when one of their S&M games goes too far. Dazed, Charles walks out of the borrowed apartment in Paris and soon bumps into François in a nearby bistro. They drive back together to Versailles, where they have beautiful neighboring houses designed by François. The owner of the apartment had seen Laura and Charles together two months earlier, but she does not tell the police on the advice of François. Even though the police do not seem to have any clues to the crime, Charles has a difficult time coping with the situation, and trying to live a normal life with his two children and loving wife Hélène. Written by Will Gilbert

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama


PG | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The house and garden of the couple in the film, Charles and Hélène Masson - played by Michel Bouquet and Stéphane Audran - were designed and built by the architect Jack Hamoniau. See more »


Version of The Stranger Within a Woman (1966) See more »


Silent Night
Original lyrics by Joseph Mohr and music by Franz Xaver Gruber, French lyrics by unknown lyricst
Played and sung in the Christmas morning scene
See more »

User Reviews

Interesting and intriguing thriller from Claude Chabrol
3 March 2008 | by The_VoidSee all my reviews

Just Before Nightfall is another Claude Chabrol film that focuses on infidelity and again it's an intriguing drama and an excellent exploration of the human condition. The film starts with a murder - but this is clearly not the point of the film as the murder happens right at the start and it's off-screen; the main focus of this film is the guilt felt by the lead character and the whole film focuses on that and it's effect on the character as well as all the people in his life. The film is based on a novel by Edouard Atiyah, and the basic plot is rather simple and really serves only as a base for the central focus of the film. The plot focuses on Charles Masson. Charles is having an affair with Laura, the wife of his friend François. The two practises S&M with one another and Charles' life is thrown into turmoil when he accidentally strangles Laura to death. He later learns that Laura's marriage with François was not the average marriage as both had other partners, but he is still consumed by guilt and it impacts his life with his beautiful wife Hélène and their three children.

As is always the case with Chabrol's thrillers, this one is not heavy on action, suspense and tension; but that is more than made up for by the central character study. All the main characters are developed well and believable. The main character, Charles, is certainly the most interesting of the piece; the way that guilt overtakes him provides a different take on the common murderer theme and makes for a very interesting watch. As ever with Chabrol films, the production values are excellent and the performances are superb. The central cast of Michel Bouquet, François Périer and the beautiful Stéphane Audran are all perfectly placed in their roles and provide the film with a strong backbone. The film doesn't move particularly quickly but Chabrol always keeps things interesting by keeping the focus on the lead characters and the central situation. Overall, Just Before Nightfall is an intriguing and thoughtful film handling the burden of guilt and I would not hesitate to name this film as one of Chabrol's very best alongside the likes of This Man Must Die, Le Boucher and Wedding in Blood.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 17 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.



Italy | France



Release Date:

31 March 1971 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Just Before Nightfall See more »

Filming Locations:

La Mure, Isère, France See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Holiday Movies on Prime Video for the Whole Family

Prime Video has you covered this holiday season with movies for the family. Here are some of our picks to get you in the spirit.

Get some picks

Recently Viewed