There is in LA POISON the retention of the spirit of the French anarchists of the late 19th century; a jocular spirit, mirthful in face of nasty business. I think Guitry is more like Lubitsch at his best than Billy Wilder ever was. Something of silent-era Lubitsch to the light touch on display in LA POISON. Very formally playful. Cut together irreverently. Increasingly riotous, most punchlines land gangbusters.
3 & a half rats. Sphincter tight screenplay and a gorgeous compliment of character actors. I saw a propulsive technique of directing, growing from an ambling walk around town to a hyperventilating race with philosophical quandaries falling by the wayside quick as Simone De Beauvoir might say "Vraiment? Vraiment? Vraiment?"
I think at this point I’ll watch anything with Michel Simon in it. In this one I saw a performance somewhat unlike what I’ve previously seen from him before. He seemed more complicated, not quite the carefree clowns of “Boudu Saved from Drowning” and “L’Atalante.” This is obviously a comedy, but at times it’s more harrowing than you might expect. The murder is particularly frightening.
La pétillante et lumineuse galerie de portraits ne manque pas de pittoresque et les dialogues fort percutants dont Sacha Guitry a toujours eu le secret font de ce petit bijou d'humeur et d'humour, une oeuvre indispensable, devenue à juste titre, un indécrottable classique du cinéma français des années cinquante... www.cinefiches.com
Even though its a very light-hearted comedy, there’s a lot going on to elevate it beyond its cheekiness. The slight introspections on social life, the community of people involved in what is going on, and the term ‘justice’ subtly weave their way into a good film, making it a great one. Even if you don't agree with Guitry's politics, he serves a dish with more to chew than meets the eye.