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Quai Des Orfevres DVD

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Blacklisted for his daring ""anti-French"" masterpiece Le Corbeau Henri-Georges Clouzot returned to cinema four years later with the provocative 1947 crime fiction adaptation Quai des Orfevres. Set within the vibrant dancehalls and historic crime corridors of 1940s Paris ambitious performer Jenny Lamour her covetous piano-playing husband Maurice Martineau and their devoted confidante Dora Monier attempt to cover one another's tracks when a sexually ogreish high-society acquaintance is murdered. Enter Inspector Antoine whose seasoned instincts lead him down a circuitous path in this classic whodunnit murder mystery.

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H.G. Clouzot classic cinema. A marriage that has fallen on hard times is further tested by the couple's implication in a murder. Jenny Lamour (Suzy Delair) is a music hall chanteuse married to her pianist husband Maurice (Bernard Blier). Keen to get ahead, Jenny leaps at the chance when an ageing wealthy businessman (Charles Dullin) offers her the chance of some gigs. However, when she agrees to a meeting at his home and he is found dead later in the evening - Maurice's untamed jealousy is in the frame. A Maigret-esque detective, Antoine, played by Louis Jouvet leaves no stone unturned in his exceedingly private investigations of the down-at-heel showbiz couple's sad, tempestuous life.

  • Average Rating for Quai Des Orfevres [1947] - 4 out of 5


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  • Quai Des Orfevres [1947]
    Ed Howard

    In "Quai des Orfevres," French director Henri-Georges Clouzot uses the trappings of a murder mystery to explore, in obsessive detail, the worlds of both the police department and the Paris theatrical scene. Jenny Lamour (Suzy Delair) is a nightclub singer with a jealous pianist husband, Maurice (Bernard Blier), who she loves and is faithful to despite his periodic jealous rages and his constant suspicion (not to mention his general frumpiness, a stark contrast to her luscious pin-up beauty). Jenny is also ambitious, though, and she accepts the attentions of the lascivious movie mogul Brignon (Charles Dullin). She naively believes that she can attain fame without giving in to the producer's notorious penchant for bedding his stars. Obviously, things go badly awry, and on the night Brignon turns up dead, both Jenny and the jealous Maurice have been at Brignon's home at different times, with flimsy but convoluted alibis to cover up their activities.

    This murder mystery provides the film's impetus, but Clouzot chooses to focus much more on the world of the entertainment industry and the small Paris clubs that these characters perform at. Clouzot's interest in this milieu is almost anthropological, developing an entire bustling world of singers, dancers, and oddball performers, like a troupe of gymnastic dogs. An early scene traces the development of Jenny's signature song, with a fluid montage that shows her performing the song in informal practice, club auditions, an on-stage rehearsal, and finally, glamorously dolled up, belting out the number as she shakes her hips before a live audience. Just as importantly, Clouzot is interested in the troubled but genuinely loving domestic relationship between Jenny and Maurice. Maurice is a balding, stocky little loser, sloppy-looking with his perpetually wrinkled clothes and his gloomy stare. He's a miserable man who somehow earned the love of a vivacious, sexy woman, and his knowledge that he's with a woman far above his level has seemingly only made him more miserable. He's consumed by jealousy, and even the most innocent chatter with the old men around the club inflames his rage.

    This world is explored mostly through the eyes of Antoine (Louis Jouvet), a glib but effective police inspector who provides a way into the story and a filter for Clouzot's observations. The mystery itself mostly takes a backseat to character and world-building, and the film is rich in detail and nuance, as well as emotional complexity. This is a beautiful and moving examination of love, fidelity, and the cost of jealousy, with an ending that restores the film to the healthy balance of its opening happiness.

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