“Every detail of every moment of every shot makes La Nuit du carrefour the only great French detective film, and, indeed, the greatest French film adventure.”-Jean-Luc Godard Based on a mystery by Georges Simenon and made with the collaboration of the author, La Nuit du carrefour is a “mystery film” in every sense of the word; very rarely seen, it has a reputation (advanced by Renoir himself) for obscurity of plot, but also for brilliance of style. It has a critical place among the films through which Renoir exerted his strongest influence on the French New Wave of the sixties. Renoir’s brother, Pierre Renoir, is perfection itself as the intrepid Detective Maigret, who is not unmoved by the charms of a certain female suspect as he sorts through the alibis and aliases of a motley group of people-an insurance agent, a garage mechanic and his crew, and a Danish couple-after a Jewish diamond merchant is found dead. The action takes place in the dead of night at a lonely crossroads not far from Paris. Atmosphere reigns supreme here, and it is no wonder that the Godard of Alphaville would admire the black-on-black effects that Renoir achieved. Renoir: “The fairylike quality came despite me, and simply because an intersection thirty kilometers outside Paris on a road going north is an enchanted place….In the end, reality is always fairylike.” La Nuit du carrefour is presented without subtitles but with a detailed English synopsis that-yes, M. Renoir-makes the film quite understandable after all. —BAM/PFA
The son of the painter Auguste Renoir, Jean Renoir became one of France’s most important and respected filmmakers during the middle of the 20th century. A Philosophy and Math student, Renoir became a cavalryman, but was invalided out of the army before World War I. Later, he married a model and aspiring actress, and, following the death of his father and the acquisition of an inheritance, set up his own production company to produce movies for his wife. Renoir learned from these early experiences of financing movies and watching other films, and became a director in 1924. With the advent of sound, Renoir’s career was quickly made with a series of profitable films, including La Chienne (1931), a savage and dark drama about a man’s self-destruction, which was later remade by Fritz Lang as Scarlet Street. Renoir’s subsequent films, including The Lower Depths (1936) and Grand Illusion (1937), were among the finest made in France before the war, and were well acknowledged at the time of… read more
Seems so unlike Renoir at first until you see his sense of satire and, yes, even humanism, at work in this noir deconstruction. The plot actually isn't that confusing, but Renoir's poetic abstraction breaks everything into fragments. Beautiful, vexing and brilliant.
Ansco Color! How shall I sing thy praises? You were a cheap-ass alternative to beautiful, cumbrous three-strip Technicolor, and what you lacked
When Maigret met Magritte. I'm not, in seems, the first to compare Jean Renoir's La nuit du carrefour (The Night at the Crossroads) to Carl