Clouzot's first film made under the occupation is a surprising mix of mystery and light comedy with a subversive undertone. The dialogue and scripting keep the viewer on their toes and even if the denouement falls a little flat the pleasures throughout compensate. A little risqué for '42 as well. Clouzot would next make his classic 'Le Corbeau'.
It would be perfectly reasonable to argue that in the 1930s France had the most vital national cinema going. During the 40s, however, while Hollywood, aided by a bevy of European exiles, was flourishing, France was mired by a suppressive occupation. It is in this context that we much appreciate Clouzot's phenomenally fun (and decidedly sly) marvel. It is a total gem and clearly a major influence on Chabrol.
3,7/5 Un pur divertissement avec la pléiade habituelle de seconds rôles truculents. C'est aussi une leçon d'histoire des mœurs et de l'esprit colonialiste d'une certaine époque : les opinions sur les femmes, sur les "nègres" et autres "vampires zoulous" ; ce qui pourrait hérisser le poil de tout panda qui se respecte.
Suzy Delaire est épatante de vitalité, Fresnay fait de son mieux, et l'ensemble avance de bon train même si le scénario, un peu plan plan, découvre trop ses ficelles, on s'amuse du jeu de cet aréopage d'acteurs français, on s'inquiète de l'insouciance de l'auteur en pleine occupation...et puis qui finira du mauvais bord
Pleasantly surprised by Clouzot's debut film. Despite being used to darker approaches in his later works, the balance between a mystery and a comedy is well executed, and the eccentric characters add more spice to the concoction. Recommended, and not only for Clouzot completionists.
First version of a fiction that will find with Hugo Christensen a much more cinematic one, with a more agile camera, but although there is a more theatrical tendency in this, actually the dialogue and the quality of the actors maintain the interest, making it a lighter movie, well integrated in the best French cinema of its time. The subjective camera here identifies the killer look...
Clouzot was such a master of suspense, possible second to only Hitchcock, that it's important to view this film in the context of being his directorial debut. It had a lot of excitement and many captivating moments, there were just a few times when I felt that Clouzot missed opportunities in the story. The characters simply make too many irrational decisions. That said, it's still a wildly entertaining movie.
The cast of eccentric characters who comprise the other residents at the boarding house (and therefore Inspector Wens' suspects in his search for 'Monsieur Durand') are great fun. Overall it's one of most successful balances of comedy with a genuine thriller that I can call to mind. One favourite exchange of mine is when Wens' girlfriend Mila offers to pick his blackheads to cheer him up.