H. G. Clouzot (director)
05 March 2018 (released)
08 March 2018
By nowadays standards it is hard to imagine that LE CORBEAU caused considerable controversy upon its release in 1943 that director Henri-Georges Clouzot was banned from film-making for a few years.
The whole problem occurred because although French with regards to cast and crew, the film had been produced by Continental Films (a German production company established near the German occupation in France during WW2) – something that didn’t go down too well with the French. To add insult to injury, the film was looked upon as vilifying the French people and make them look as a nation of informers willing to denounce even those close to them. Watching the film in this day and age it really is hard to believe what all the fuss was about, considering that here is a story which can happen anywhere and anytime… and director Clouzot understood it as such. No more and no less.
Set in a provincial French town (the name is not specified), the plot begins with a series of ‘poison pen’ letters signed by The Raven (Le Corbeau). Initially, the first letters accuse Doctor Rémy Germain (Pierre Fresney) of having an affair with Laura (Micheline Francey), the attractive and much younger wife of the elderly psychiatrist Doctor Michel Vorzet (Pierre Larquay). To make matters worse, the letters furthermore accuse Dr. Rèmy of carrying out illegal abortions. Laura’s sister Marie Corbin (Helena Manson), a sour and bitter nurse working at the local hospital, is quick to agree with the accusations against Rémy, not least because she is jealous of her attractive sister and senses that she is attracted to the doctor. Soon though, more and more people receive letters signed ‘The Raven’ and always accusing them oft this, that or the other though in the end the origin of the accusations always go back to Rémy, the outsider (he is not a local guy you see). At one point Rémy’s lover Denise (Ginette Leclerc) is rumoured to be behind the letters, reason being her increasing (and imagined) jealousy of Laura and the fact that she has a disformed foot. The entire situation spins out of control when a patient in the hospital commits suicide after having received a poison letter claiming his cancer is terminal. Now the fingers point at nurse Marie Corbin who may well have her own agenda to send poison pen letters. She is arrested and thrown into prison. But it doesn’t take long before certain citizens receive letters again, proving nurse Marie to be innocent after all… but who really is The Raven? Or could it be that more than one person are to blame?
This is a cleverly staged ‘whodunnit’ with more twists and turns than ink is spilled…
Studiocanal presents the b/w film in a brand-new 4K restoration including the new Bonus Feature: ‘The Cursed Masterpiece of H. G. Clouzot’