While I sit here fretting over my screen, awaiting pre-Xmas Blu-ray late arrivals like the BFI Celine et Julie, and the Masters of Cinema Keaton boxset, I need to attend to some overlooked goodies from 2017.
Canal has now reissued three other Clouzots, one from 1968, La Prisonnière in fabulously psychedelic Eastmancolor, and his two greatest movies, Le Corbeau from 1945 (The Raven) made under the Greven/Continental Films administration during the Occupation, and his dark, savage and perhaps funniest picture, from one of the great sardonic misanthropic moralists of cinema, Quai des Orfèvres from 1947. Here the fine stage and film comedian Louis Jouvet plays a trench-coated police inspector with a black son (or adopted son, we never really know) investigating a murder amongst the denizens of two of society’s least salubrious métiers, showbiz and a pornographic society photography racket run by neither the first nor the last of Clouzot’s very unstable Lesbian villains, here played with considerably nervous adroitness by Simone Renant as Dora.
In fact, the entire cast of Quai des Orfèvres play their parts in overcoats and furs and other items for providing warmth, given the post war deprivations of achingly cold winter studios and soundstages with no heating. You can feel the actors shiver while taking in the visual spectacle of so much sleaze and depravity.
|'two trained Fox Terriers who do some very neat faux shock/horror reactions'|
|'not quite murdering a song', Suzy Delair, Quai des Orfèvres|
Clouzot’s career right up to the late fifties and the Nouvelle Vague is an extremely sustained run of fine pictures, all clearly stamped by his personality and his razor sharp eye for human folly. Thematically he is the inheritor to the caustic vision and wit of Duvivier, during his own peak through the 30s into the fifties, coming to an end in 54 with his great last burst, Voici le Temps des Assassins (1954). Clouzot would make only a few more movies after the ascension of the new guard in 1958, who had by then locked him into their despised Tradition de Qualité. Ironically it was Chabrol himself who most closely inherits Clouzot's mantel for moralist and sardonic commentator on human weakness, with the birth of the N-V.
Clouzot deserves better treatment today, and the resurrection of his first two decades through these terrific new 4K and 2K masters and Blu-rays is a great beginning. The three Canal discs reviewed above are currently only available from France although they are optionally subtitled and language friendly for English markets. All are hard coded Region B.