Dir. Henri-George Clouzot
France 1955 | Black & white | 114 min | Thriller
Cast: Simone Signoret, Véra Clouzot, Paul Meurisse
In the most Hitchcockian of all the films made by the French master of suspense – like Vertigo, it was adapted from a novel by Boileau and Narcejac – the wife and the likewise abused mistress of the tyrannical headmaster of a seedy boys’ boarding school conspire to put an end to his callous brutality. Taut as a mantrap, the meticulous script provides plenty of tension, surprises and shocks, but what really distinguishes the film is Clouzot’s beady eye for details both atmospheric and telling: a swimming pool clogged with debris, rancid school meals, the dismal efforts of the staff to curry favour. Much imitated but seldom bettered, the film can also lay claim to a clutch of excellent performances; not just Véra Clouzot, Simone Signoret and Paul Meurisse as the misbegotten ménage-à-trois, but a young Michel Serrault as a teacher and the inimitable Charles Vanel as a canny detective.
Available on: DCP
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