Archive for December 21st, 2011

Copyright © 2011 by James Clark

Henri-Georges Clouzot as a Christmas fabulist? Well, his Quai des Orfèvres (1947) does race over a Christmas time-frame. But where is the “peace on earth, goodwill toward men”? At the end, the principals do stagger up to their living-room Christmas tree and a day of celebration. But, despite fulsome protestations of their love for each other, one of them is just a few hours past attempting suicide and the other has frequently and convincingly given her partner (her “flame”) to understand that she hates him. Surely that punishing scenario, as guided by a notoriously hard-boiled auteur, could never yield a cogent dispensation of love, to make the season bright?

If we reflect a bit more, however, and take a close look at this very hard to define vehicle—action thriller? murder-mystery comedy? historical slice ofFranceadrift after the War? sentimental suspense? assault upon the French film and music industries? or ridicule of the quality of policing inParisat that time? (A police inspector is taken to task: “You don’t look like a policeman to me. You don’t even have a raincoat…”/ “It was stolen…”)—we might not only discover a fresh holiday treat, but a more comprehensive way of appreciating Clouzot’s quite bewildering (though directly impressive) art. (more…)

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