Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
France, 1943. Continental Films. Scenario by Louis Chavance, Adaptation and dialogue by Henri-Georges Clouzot, Louis Chavance. Cinematography by Nicolas Hayer. Produced by René Montis, Raoul Ploquin. Music by Tony Aubin. Production Design by Andrej Andrejew, Hermann Wann. Film Editing by Marguerite Beauge.
Scintillating mystery and early effort by the incomparable Henri-Georges Clouzot, about a small village in France that is being bombarded with poison-pen letters from an anonymous source. A central victim of the letters, a doctor from out of town (Pierre Fresnay), decides to get to the bottom of the mystery when some of the missives provoke suicidal dispair in his fellow townspeople. Thrilling drama, gorgeous to look at and deep in character and story, with an unmistakably political message towards World War II audiences about informers working against the French Resistance. Because the film was made by the German-run Continental Films studio, Clouzot and his associates were barred from filmmaking in France for some time after the war ended, until his colleagues and friends spoke up on his behalf to insist that the film was an obvious statement of his political feelings. Remade in the US by Otto Preminger as The 13th Letter.
The Criterion Collection: #227