Blacklisted for his daring “anti-French” masterpiece, Le corbeau, Henri-Georges Clouzot returned to cinema four years later with the 1947 crime fiction adaptation, Quai des Orfèvres. Set within the vibrant dance halls and crime corridors of 1940s Paris, Quai des Orfèvres follows ambitious performer Jenny Lamour (Suzy Delair), her covetous husband Maurice Martineau (Bernard Blier), and their devoted confidante Dora Monier (Simone Renant) as they attempt to cover one another’s tracks when a sexually orgreish high-society acquaintance is murdered. Enter Inspector Antoine (Louis Jouvet), whose seasoned instincts lead him down a circuitous path in this classic whodunit murder mystery. —The Criterion Collection
Acclaimed in particular for his thrillers, Clouzot was one of the genuine rivals to Alfred Hitchcock and, at his peak, seemed to anticipate the moves of the better-known English director. Born in 1907 in Niort, Clouzot intended upon a career in the French navy but was barred from that opportunity by poor eyesight and chronic ill health. He studied political science with the intention of joining the diplomatic service and he served on the staff of a Rightist political figure after graduation from college, but in the late ‘20s, Clouzot moved into writing, first as a journalist and, starting in the early ’30s, as a screenwriter and playwright. He co-authored numerous scripts between 1931 and 1933, in addition to making the short thriller La Terreur des Batignolles and serving as an assistant to several directors, including Anatole Litvak, E.A. Dupont, and Karl Hartl, on various projects. Clouzot’s initial start in films was interrupted in the mid-‘30s when his declining health forced him… read more
Clouzot returned with this entertaining whodunnit after an enforced four year absence from the screen due to the controversy surrounding his previous film Le Corbeau. Jouvet gets all the best lines as the cop who is investigating the murder of a seedy old man with the two main suspects being a married couple working in the music halls of Paris. The case is wrapped up at police headquarters on a snowy Christmas Eve...
God I love this film. Louis Jouvet has never been better, and those who think of Clouzot as a misanthrope, they need to see this. The cinematography is splendid, the characters wonderfully developed and what a treat to see France at this point in time, the theaters, the streets... Bernard Blier and Suzy Delair also deserve mention, as the couple who serve as the film's central focus they really are charming, lovely.
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