Daniel and Paul are two hard-up factory workers who supplement their income by some nocturnal safe-cracking. However, it isn’t long before their luck runs out. Caught red-handed during a robbery, Paul kills a man before fleeing whilst Daniel is shot and arrested. A while later, Daniel manages to escape as he is being transferred to a prison and goes into hiding in Haute-Provence. Here, he befriends the owner of a remote petrol station, Thomas, who invites him to live with him and his wife, Maria, in exchange for doing odd jobs. When she discovers that Daniel is an escaped criminal, Maria coerces him into breaking open her husband’s safe, so that she can run off with his substantial nest egg. Daniel is reluctant to betray his new friend but gives in when Maria threatens to hand him over to the police. Thomas turns up just as Daniel opens the safe. Incensed, he turns on his wife, but she shoots him dead in the ensuring struggle. Once they have disposed of Thomas’s body, Maria and Daniel continue to run the petrol station as if nothing has happened, although Maria still hopes to abscond with the money which remains locked up in the safe. Then Daniel’s friend Paul makes an unexpected appearance. When she realises that the newcomer is in the same line of business as Daniel, Maria suddenly finds him very attractive… —Frenchfilmguide.com
Born in Lille in 1896, Julien Duvivier was a stage actor and then production assistant on André Antoine’s films before starting as a director in 1919. His prolific career – over 60 films – only ended on his death in 1967. After twenty or so silent movies inspired from many different sources, he attained international recognition in the 1930′s with movies which have become classics of “poetic realism”, notably the sound remake of Poil de carotte (1932), La Belle équipe (1936) and Pépé le Moko (1937).
After exile in Hollywood during the war, he returned to France in 1946 but failed to regain his former critical standing, despite such remarkable films as Panique (1947), Voici le temps des assassins (1956) and Pot Bouille (1957). He enjoyed international succes with The Little World of Don Camillo (1951). —Octuor de France
**1/2. Some superb scenes here like the scene of the newspaper that forces the audience to focus on a detail (the newspaper) and forget what's going on on the screen. But all in all, I had the feeling to see The Postman Always Rings Twice remade in the South of France. Duvivier cannot be compared with Leone with Chair de Poule. Already forgotten.