Quai des Orfevres (Clouzot, 1947) DVD
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Directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot
Produced in 1947
Main Language - French with English subtitles
Not to be confused with 36: Quai des Orfèvres, Olivier Marchal's crime caper of similar name starring Daniel Auteuil and Gerard Depardieu, Quai
des Orfèvres concerns a music hall singer and actress called Jenny Lamour
(played by Suzy Delair), a lady who isn't averse to using her feminine wiles in order to prosper, much to the chagrin of her perpetually hangdog other half, Maurice (Bernard Blier). Discovering that his wife has deceived him to meet with a degenerate film producer called Brignon (a man so low he pays young models to pose nude for him), Maurice vows murder – only to find
that someone has beaten him to the kill. Enter the wonderful Louis Jouvet
stage right as Inspector Antoine, a gendarme on the trail of the murderer.
All of which may sound like a fairly standard crime of passion flick. What
makes Quai des Orfèvres special is the relationship between Jenny and Maurice – in many ways this is the crux of the film. Writer-director Henri-Georges Clouzot (these days most famous for helming the mighty Les Diaboliques) turns in an exceptional movie with an interesting twist. On
the surface of things, Quai des Orfèvres can be viewed, wrongly, I think, as a conventional story in which a social-climbing woman does her man wrong. Jenny and Maurice do, however, genuinely love each other – and there are tender scenes that go some way toward demonstrating this. What we have here is a crime of passion wrought by a woman who gets herself in a situation as the result of attempting to better her life and the life of her husband.
With the look and feel of Strangers on a Train and the odd sense of life going on behind the scenes you find in movies like Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Delicatessen or Michel Gondry's The Science of Sleep, Quai des Orfèvres is one of those low key gems that may have slipped below your radar previously. Fans of vintage Hitchcock and Pickpocket-era Bresson should make sure they don't let this one slip by.
Peter Wild on 13th April 2004
Author of 99 reviews
A classic French film noir set around the dancehalls of 1940s Paris. Singer Jenny meets a lecherous movie financier Brignon in order to further her career. Her jealous husband disapproves. When Brignon is murdered, hawk-eyed Inspector Antoine is confronted with three potential murderers and has to try and prise apart all the alibis with which he is confronted. Shot through with Clouzot's typically morbid humour.
Publisher: Optimum Releasing
Length: 102 mins
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Cat No: OPTD0905
Format: DVD B&W
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