28 May 2018

STUDIOCANAL PRESENTS: HENRI-GEORGES CLOUZOT'S 'LE CORBEAU,' AKA THE RAVEN. (1943) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.




LE CORBEAU. (1943) DIRECTED/SCREENPLAY BY HENRI-GEORGES CLOUZOT. STARRING PIERRE FRESNAY, GINETTE LECLERC, PIERRE LARQUEY AND HELENA MANSON. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

LE CORBEAU, QUAI DES ORFEVRES and LA PRISONNIERE (a trio of films from Henri-Georges Clouzot) are available to buy now as part of STUDIOCANAL'S VINTAGE WORLD CINEMA COLLECTION. This is a showcase of iconic films from across the globe, all fully restored and featuring brand-new extra content. New 4k restorations from Henri-Georges Clouzot, the director known as the French Alfred Hitchcock, are out now on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital Download.

The back-story to this excellent French thriller is rather fascinating. It was produced by CONTINENTAL FILMS, a German film company established during the French Occupation. This means that it would have had to get the backing of Hitler's Minister for Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, before it could be made.

Goebbels, a jolly fellow who loved all the peoples of the world equally (not!) and who never tried to big himself or his Party up in any way, had his fingers in many cinematic pies during this period. He loved the glamour of hobnobbing with movie stars and big-shot directors, and who could blame him? The lure of that world is strong.

But the issue of Nazi involvement in his film caused Clouzot big problems after the war. He even got a lifetime ban from directing in France because of it and his film was banned too, but luckily the lifetime ban expired after a couple of years. That sounds like something that would happen in Ireland, lol. How long was your life sentence? Oh, only a couple of years, sure 'twas grand...! Typical of Ireland.

The Nazis, of course, forbade any films from being made that made them look bad and, on the whole, they preferred sanctioning the making of light comedies and detective stories, films that entertained rather than provoking deep thought. Nothing heavy about concentration camps and the like.

LE CORBEAU is a sort of mystery story. There's not much to laugh at in it, but the mystery element is certainly pretty intriguing. And you'll notice too that, though it was made in 1943, there's no mention of the Second World War in it at all. That's because of the Nazi influence. Keep everything nice and light and don't mention the war. What war? Is there even a war on? I haven't heard anything about any war...

So anyway, there's this small unnamed town in France, back in black-and-white times. We're told it could be anywhere. Anywhere in France, that is. The town is being plagued by a poison-pen letter-writer, a nasty piece of work who seems to know the weak spots and secrets of everyone in the town, like the kids of Springfield in the episode of THE SIMPSONS about the curfew and THE BLOODENING.

Spooky English voice: 'Police Chief Wiggum likes to walk the beat in control-top pantyhose.'

Chief Wiggum, flustered: 'Ah, that's not a crime, is it boys?'

Lou, sniggering, producing handcuffs: 'I'm afraid it is, Chief. Let's go...!'

Anyway, the letters are all signed Le Corbeau which is French for The Raven, but the film is nothing whatsoever to do with Edgar Allan Poe and his tweety-bird. The Raven, whoever he or she is, seems to have a particular bee in his bonnet about Remy Germain, one of the town's doctors. The Raven accuses Germain of being everything from an abortionist to an adulterer. Well, those are the two main things he's accused of, lol.

Does his reputation as an abortionist stem from the fact that he's been known to save the mother rather than the baby in situations of childbirth? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. I'm only being all mysterious about it because I actually don't know the answer, haha.

He's also accused of having an affair with a rather intense woman called Laura Vorzet, the much younger wife of the elderly psychiatrist, Dr. Vorzet. Well, she is always sneaking away from her geriatric spouse to have secret little tete-a-tetes with Dr. Germain. Keep your eye on this one. She'll bear watching, I'm telling you.

My favourite character by miles is Denise Saillens, a well-off local beauty made lame in a childhood accident. She does everything she can to get the frosty Dr. Germain into bed, including being a hypochondriac who sends for him every five minutes, which only serves to infuriate him.

Eventually she succeeds in seducing him. Well, he's only human, after all. He's not made of stone. Their liasion has far-reaching repercussions for both of them. Good job he's a doctor. They're gonna need one of those in, oh I don't know, say, nine months time? Can you read between these lines? Of course you can, lol. You're not blind.

Denise is a real 'Forties babe. She's drop-dead gorgeous, with a slight touch of the actress Sandra Bernhardt (Madonna's pal) about her. With her long glossy wavy hair, her smoky eyes and lipstick-coated mouth, she's the kind of gal who'd devote her life to the right guy, or the wrong guy if he were handsome and charismatic enough.

She's the kind of deeply masochistic 'Forties woman who'd prostrate herself on the floor hanging onto a guy's leg for dear life, saying things like: 'Hit me, darling, please hit me if you must, only don't leave me, Tex darling, don't leave me! I can't live without you!'

If only she'd direct all her not inconsiderable energies into, say, writing a book or starting up a small business or opening up an animal shelter, she'd get ahead in no time. She's gotta lotta chutzpah. But a gal like that can't take five steps without a man. That's been women's biggest problem since the dawn of time.

Denise loves the rather cold Germain with all her 'Forties woman's heart. But does he love her back? And her front? And both her sides? A woman like Denise don't need no half-assed love. She needs all or nothing. What exactly is Germain prepared to give her...?

Meanwhile, the nasty poison-pen letters keep coming and coming and coming. The tension mounts and continues to mount until eventually we have a long(ish) list of suspects to choose from. The Raven could be any one of the townspeople and everyone is suspicious of everyone else. 'Tis a terrible situation altogether. The town's collective nerves are in shreds. How much longer can the Raven keep subjecting them to such awful vitriol...?

Notable scenes include the terrified Ward Sister Marie Corbin fleeing from an angry mob, the rather unusual detention class and the pomp and ceremony at the funeral of the poor liver cancer patient. I also like it when the town's notables get together to discuss the Raven and they say that it's vitally important that they are seen to be doing something. Never mind doing the thing, as long as they're seen to be doing it! Sounds a lot like Ireland again...

Clouzot got in trouble for his portrayal of the French people in the film as corrupt and unpleasant. Now, corrupt I wouldn't know anything about, but I will not stand here and hear the French dismissed and derided as rude, snooty, pushy, superior wine-quaffing cheese-munching know-it-alls from across the Channel who think they're better than us, I just will not. The French are a great bunch of lads. I love the French, honest I do. I just couldn't eat a whole one, lol...!

LE CORBEAU, QUAI DES ORFEVRES and LA PRISONNIERE (a trio of films from Henri-Georges Clouzot) are available to buy now as part of STUDIOCANAL'S VINTAGE WORLD CINEMA COLLECTION. This is a showcase of iconic films from across the globe, all fully restored and featuring brand-new extra content. New 4k restorations from Henri-Georges Clouzot, the director known as the French Alfred Hitchcock, are out now on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital Download.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com








No comments:

Post a comment