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Les diaboliques

(Diabolique)
France 1955. Dir: Henri-Georges Clouzot. 117 min. 35mm

Hitchcock had wanted to option Celle qui n'était plus, the Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac crime novel on which Les diaboliques would be based, but Henri-Georges Clouzot, France’s own “Master of Suspense,” beat him to the punch. And what a punch! Clouzot’s sordid, morbid chiller is one of cinema’s most heart-stopping works — and a decided influence on Hitchcock’s Psycho a half-decade later! The diabolical plot has the wife (Véra Clouzot) and mistress (Simone Signoret) of an abusive schoolmaster (Paul Meurisse) teaming up to murder him. The performances are sensational; the tension gets cranked up to an almost-unbearable 11. Hitchcock would make Vertigo from a subsequent Boileau-Narcejac novel. “One of the most frightening of all films ... Clouzot has a consistent vision that is more jaundiced than any other in French cinema” (David Thomson).


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REVIEWS

★★★★★ "[An] icily brilliant suspense thriller ... Satisfying, elegant, and nasty."

The Guardian | full review

"Devilishly suspenseful ... It has all the dark humour and clever tension of a Hitchcock."

Time Out | full review