Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot
This film ranked #39 in Time Out's list of the 100 greatest French films. Click here to see the full list.
Devilishly suspenseful, Henri-Georges Clouzot’s thriller about two women who conspire to knock off a sadistic boarding-school headmaster (Paul Meurisse) – one of the women is his wife, the other his mistress – has all the dark humour and clever tension of a Hitchcock. Simone Signoret as the peroxide-blonde mistress is the harder of the two would-be killers, while Véra Clouzot is shivering and simpering as the wife. It’s a great yarn, with a delicious twist (don’t be ‘diabolique’ and ruin the end for your friends, warn the end credits), as Signoret and Clouzot dispose of their victim but then must deal with creepy signs that their plan might be coming unstuck. Charles Vanel steals the show late on as a shambling, pre-Columbo detective, but the real star is Clouzot as director who maintains a sense of dread and mystery until the end by taking his shaggy-dog story deadly seriously.