Duvivier, one of the all-time Great French directors, spent the first part of the nineteen forties in Hollywood where her turned out a string of first-rate movies (Lydia, Flesh And Fantasy, Tales Of Manhattan) but when he returned to his native France he did so with style and panache with this film, one of the finest French films of the forties and easily fit to stand beside such gems as Les Visituers du Soir, Les Enfants du Paradis, Adieu, Leonard, Les Portes de la nuit, etc. The source material was, once again, Georges Simenon who, at the last count, has had something like 170 films made from his vast output. Duvivier employed one of the finest French Screenwriters, Charles Spaak to adapt the story of the 'outsider' who is so easy to blame when things go wrong. Michel Simon, brilliant as ever, is doubly an 'outsider' here for in addition to being Jewish he is also eccentric and unsociable which, naturally, in the blinkered eyes of society, makes him the number one suspect for a local murder, especially when local good-time girl, Viviane Romance, lately out of the slammer and back with the piece of scum for whom she took the rap, plants incriminating evidence in Simon's flat. Set-up after set-up reeks of style and there's a nice sequence on the bumper cars in a funfair where M. Hire (Simon) is hemmed in by other cars, anticipating the climax when the crowd will surround him baying for blood and there's also a nod to an earlier Simon triumph, Boudu, in a scene shot alongside the bouquinistes that line the Seine. Patrice Leconte remade Panique as Monsieur Hire with Michel Blanc in the eponymous role and it remains a fine film but this is the version they all have to beat. A regular poster has remarked that he'd rather have this film than ten A Bout de souffles and I know what he means except he should have said Twenty. Godard is not fit to shine Duvivier's shoes.
Crime / Drama
Crime / Drama
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After an elderly maid is murdered, opinions are manipulated, evidence is planted, violence erupts, and panic ensues.
June 15, 2020