The screen's first Simenon adaptation, a wonderfully impenetrable mystery in which a series of murders and murder attempts gradually unravel a tale of star-crossed love and stolen diamonds, centring on a lonely crossroads, a sleazy garage, and a semi-derelict house harbouring an enigmatic, drug-stupefied femme fatale. Shot almost entirely on location and in direct sound, with most of the action taking place at night or in permanently shrouding mists, the whole film is seen and heard as through a glass, darkly. Myth (perpetuated by Godard) has it that three reels were lost; in fact nothing is missing, except that the money ran out and undoubtedly left gaps and rough edges. The mystification is an integral part of Renoir's conception: scenes are constantly being shot past Maigret or over his shoulder, as if to focus concentration on the mysterious person or object he is contemplating, but which is seen only hazily in the background, leaving us intrigued, tantalised and little the wiser until Pierre Renoir's Maigret ('Simple! Why didn't I think of it before?') condescends to explain. Weird, hallucinating and oddly poetic, it prefigures the treacherous perspectives of the later film noir.
Cast and crew