Quai des Orfèvres ★★★★

A singer and her husband fall under suspicion for the murder of a sleazy old man.

The more I see the more I feel there is something really special being done in the French films of the immediate post war period, something that has perhaps been glossed over in the rush to see the Nouvelle Vague as a much needed revolution. Maybe it's just Clouzot and Becker, I don't know, I've hardly seen that much from the period, maybe it's just a comparitively freer set of rules than the US or UK but there seems to be a fresh and vital feel to them with a real earthy sexiness to go incongrously well alongside real threat and stakes.

Here Suzy Delair, so good for Clouzot in The Murderer lives at number 21, and Bernard Blier share a marriage that seems to owe a lot to Hollywood comedies, it's recognisably a screen marriage, indeed she reminded me of Lucille Ball at times, but also has a sexiness and indeed quota of sexual jealousy that wouldn't be found in American film. Their involvement in a murder case comes not from some cute misunderstanding but from the victim wanting her for his porny photos and Clouzot manages to inject a real noir desperation into Blier's being hounded by the police, right down to a genuinely gruesome suicide scene. Yet it is still entirely possible to talk about the movies lightness of touch. It's possible to view it as a very very dark comedy and the way it pulls off such variations of tone and genre is outstanding and seemingly rooted in it's frank honesty.

It takes a plot that is generically familiar from the american husband and wife misadventure comedies of the 30s, adds a dose of noir but somehow takes each section seriously, when the couple are misleading each other and getting jealous you feel it, when someone is in custody wrongly accused of murder he is genuinely desperate and yet you still laugh when it needs you to. I'm not sure it should work but it does .

Film 46/100 of my 100 films to watch in 2016

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