The Spider and the Fly
Time Out saysUndervalued at the time, more mood piece than thriller, this is a fascinating attempt to express the uncertain moral climate of a period of change (eve of WWI) through a cat-and-mouse game between a gentleman cracksman (Rolfe) and a Parisian police inspector (Portman) who knows very well who the thief is, but is unable to discover how he covers his tracks. A sort of friendship springs up between them, foundering only on ethical and legal barriers; but their curious kinship is further defined by the lovely provincial innocent (Gray) used as a decoy by Rolfe, then abandoned to her fate when she is arrested by Portman in an attempt to force a gentlemanly confession. Struck by her dignity and integrity under duress, both men begin to fall in love with her... Instead of fully exploring the moral and psychological implications, the script opts for a lightly ironic (but still pleasingly apt) coda in which both men find themselves hoist by their own prejudices and petards. But the look of the film, bleak and penumbral, with sets, camerawork and beautifully chosen locations conspiring to recapture the poetic quality of Feuillade's Paris, makes it rank with Hamer's best work.