Peeping Tom beats Vertigo's ass like a drum all day long.
Contains many plot elements and tropes of noir, like Pépé le Moko from the same year, but it predates the codification of those tropes, and does not have a noir worldview. Gueule d'amour also echoes some of the class divides seen in Pépé le Moko, but this film has a a very rare, if not unique take on male friendship for a film from this period.
Powell consistently deflates any expectations of gothic thriller with moments of humor, and assiduously avoids the monsterization of Böhm's character with any binary moral POV. Though a lurid pulp aesthetic is invoked throughout, it's never really the POV of the film. The multiple tape recorder scene near the end is chilling, especially since Böhm later said his understanding of the character was of someone traumatized by growing up in Nazi Germany.
I really enjoyed this, in large part for the production design, hair, makeup, etc. I was reminded a bit of the 1962 Brit horror Night of the Eagle, based on the Fritz Lieber novel Conjure Wife, which take the POV of the husband, but share the theme of witchcraft among suburban housewives. The performances are engaging despite being relatively amateurish, and there is a camp charm to the whole thing, kind of like an ABC Movie of the Week. Maybe not the most accomplished Romero film, but an entertaining one.
The ungainly subs for the copy of L'étrange Madame X that I watched did not do it any favors, as the narrative itself has a number of abrupt gaps where the viewer is left to piece together what has happened since the last scene. And the premise itself leaves a void where the explanation of just how Michèle Morgan's double-life began. The opening scene takes place in an empty stadium, and Henri Vidal's Etienne and Morgan's Irène recall their first…
Some cite the mix of tones in Pattes Blanches as a weakness, but it's what really made the film for me. Such a strange mix of The Postman Always Rings Twice noir, melodrama, and Beauty and the Beast/ Cinderella fairy tale gothicism. I really enjoy the way Grémillon takes tropes of melodrama and modulates through poetic realism, neo-realism, the heightened emotional state of melodrama, even surrealism, or at least a kind of dream space. In the case of Pattes Blanches Grémillon even borders on horror, and the film is quite creepy at times.
An interminable death march, operatic melodrama shoehorned into bleak cynical noir, replete with a massacre of Jewish refugees. I was familiar with the plot from the several operas based on the Prévost novel, so there were no surprises in the overall story arc, just bafflement at Clouzot's choices in blunt object symbolism. Entirely unsympathetic leads, combined with Clouzot's standard misogyny, made this entirely unpleasant for us, but seeing the dead body of a nazi collaborator dragged across the desert was apparently a big hit with audiences at the time.
Alison Smith: You know, just now I - I heard sounds.
Thomas Colpeper, JP: What sounds did you hear?
Alison Smith: Horses' hooves, voices, and a lute. Or an instrument like a lute. Did you hear anything?
Thomas Colpeper, JP: Those sounds come from inside, not outside. Then only when you're concentrating, when you believe strongly in something. Just now I was concentrating on who was coming up the hill to disturb me.
Alison Smith: Disturb you? At what?
Thomas Colpeper, JP: Breathing the air, smelling the earth, watching the clouds. Why don't you sit down?
“They talk too much to be happy.”
One of those films where the sheer awe at its existence is one of the primary emotions I felt while watching. That this is the debut feature from a 25 year old woman director, who made this film for $14, 000 in 1955, is perhaps particularly striking to me because I have been watching French films in roughly chronological order, and it is so clearly an evolutionary step in filmmaking. Having recently seen…
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
There was a lot about this I liked, but ultimately Jennifer Jones falls down a mineshaft, The End was not a satisfying conclusion for me, though it's gorgeous, and certainly worth watching, particularly in the context of it's shared themes with other P&P films.
I tried watching Selzick's butcher job Wild at Heart, but didn't make it through the VO intro.