Diabolique (1955)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BBBB

Original title:  Les Diaboliques

France, 1955.  , .  Scenario and dialogue by , , collaboration with , , based on the novel Celle Qui N’Etait Plus by , . Cinematography by .  Produced by Henri-Georges Clouzot, .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by

The original thriller that still can’t be beat! School headmaster is such a mean bastard that his weak-hearted wife () and sexy mistress (Simone Signoret) have conspired to kill him. They work out an elaborate scheme to do him in, but once the deed is done Clouzot starts to believe that she’s seeing him around again. Is it her guilty Catholic conscience that is telling her that he is still alive, or is it just a trick that someone is playing on her to scare her silly? Director Henri-Georges Clouzot never for a moment rushes the proceedings, letting the whole thing play out nice and steady until the terrifying ending. It has been imitated countless times since (even remade with Sharon Stone and Isabelle Adjani in 1996), but the original is where the money is. Alfred Hitchcock had expressed an interest in filming the original novel Celle Qui N’Etait Plus but was beaten to the punch by Clouzot before he could decide whether to make it or not, prompting novelists Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac to write another book called D’Entre Les Morts, which Hitchcock would later film as Vertigo.

The Criterion Collection:  #35

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