29 Nov

The end of Melbourne Cinematheque 2011 is near, but don’t worry, we are being sent off in style. For the next three weeks the films of Henri-Georges Clouzot will be screened, starting with Les Diaboliques (1955) and Quai des Orfevres (1947).
Clouzot- often called the ‘French Alfred Hitchock’ for their joint love of suspense, thrillers, the precision within their films, and their notorious hatred for actors- was drawn to filmmaking early yet due to an early film looking harshly at Nazi Occupied France he was banned from filmmaking until the end of the war. By 1947 he was again allowed to direct and quickly rose to prominence. Drawing upon Expressionism, Clouzot’s films exhibit a restless style and preoccupation with detail and deception. Towards the end of his career the critical popularity of Clouzot’s films began to wane for the rising directors of the Nouvelle Vague didn’t deem his work significant enough to warrant analysis and numerous negative articles about Clouzot’s films appeared in Cahier du Cinema.

To begin the retrospective this week we have Les Diabliques, based on the novel She Who Was No More and reportedly adapted into a film by Clouzot before Hitchock had the chance to. The plot- drastically changed by Clouzot- follows the wife and mistress of a sadistic and cruel boarding school headmaster as they plot, scheme and eventually murder him. Yet when the drowned body disappears and reports of the murdered man begin to be cited around town emerge, the two women slowly begin to be driven mad with guilt and worry.

The first film made after his government-forced censorship, Quai des Orfevres was re-written by Clouzot from memory as the original novel was out of print. A Private Investigator tries to uncover the murder of a sleazy film producer who often ‘discovered’ girls at musical halls and dance acts. His most recent discovery was Jenny Lamour who would do anything to become famous, even in spite of her jealous boyfriends threats of murder if she went to the producers house. Which much focus put on the psychological drive and make-up of characters, Quai des Orfevres is often seen as the pinnacle of post-war crime films.


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