Quai des Orfèvres

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It's unfortunate that The Wages of Fear is virtually the only Clouzot film that anyone remembers, since his real background lies in a much more traditional French thriller vein, of which Quai des Orfèvres is a fine example. The plot is suitably marginal: a hard-times couple (Blier, Delair) whose marriage is crumbling find themselves implicated in a murder. Clouzot doesn't waste a moment over the rampant implausibilities, but devotes all his energies to a romantically bleak evocation of the low-life settings: run-down music-halls, squalid apartments and gloomy police stations, peopled with lonely hookers, lesbians and pornographers. Jouvet's Maigret-esque cop gets all the best lines, and gives the film its human, tragic focus.

By: TR

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