The Witches of Salem ★★★★

The first film version of The Crucible, made by the French because of course no American who feared for his own safety would have filmed it during the period of the McCarthyist 'witch hunts.' Though the film is still set in 1692 Massachusetts, it feels very European - obviously influenced by Dreyer, though Rouleau isn't as cinematically fluent a director. Having performed in the play The Crucible in high school, I find it extremely hard to distance myself from it enough to judge this film adequately. The performances are good, though; Montand and Signoret are strong lead performers, and Mylène Demongeot, with whom I'm not familiar, is fantastic as the lustful, crafty Abigail. Jean-Paul Sartre adapted the play for the screen, and, aside from some preachiness and banality, he writes a film of great power. A very effective film of religious people who, through their own overzealousness to conform, ultimately bring about their own hell. (Note: the VHS release is truncated. The Pathé restoration, released on Blu-ray in France, is the complete version of the film.)