"The cat's in the bag and the bag's in the river."
Favorite Scene From A Movie
Pulp Fiction: The Bonnie Situation.
Blue Velvet: The climatic scene in Dorothy's apartment.
Dr. Strangelove: Riding the bomb and when the President is on the phone with the Soviet leader (so funny!).
Network: The "Mad as Hell" speech and when Beale meets Jensen.
Paris, Texas: The whole movie is beautiful but Travis's heart-wrenching monologue clinches it.
Top 5: Pulp Fiction; Blue Velvet; Dr. Strangelove; Network; Paris, Texas
Actor: Jack Nicholson Actress: Meryl Streep
David Lynch, Woody Allen, Sidney Lumet, Robert Altman, Martin Scorcese, Stanley Kubrick, Quentin Tarantino
Posted on 02/18/12 09:48 PM | Last edited on 02/18/12 09:48 PM
(Apologies for the delay. Reading week is here and I have been travelling and having a busy weekend. :D Anyways, for my next pick...)
Alfred Hitchcock is often hailed as the master of suspense, and rightfully so. With wonderful films like "The Lady Vanishes," "The 39 Steps," "Rebecca," "Vertigo," "Psycho," "Rear Window," "The Birds," and many others, Hitchcock expertly grabs the attention of the audience and sucks you in with great dialogue and tense moments. But is it possible to "Out-Hitchcock" Hitchcock? If there is any movie that comes close to doing that, it's Henri-Georges Clouzot's "Diabolique."
"Diabolique" focuses on a much-maligned schoolmistress, Christina (played by Clouzot's wife Vera), who is married to the abusive, autocratic head of the school MIchel Delassalles (Paul Meurisse). He also openly flaunts his affair with another teacher, Nicole (Simone Sigournet), who he also abuses. The two eventually grow sick of Michel's infidelity and abusiveness, and plot to kill him. After the deed is done, they dispose the body which soon goes missing. Somebody knows what they did and with a cop (Charles Vanel) sniffing around as well, the pressure mounts on the two women to figure things out and soon. I would say more, but the end card of the movie respectfully requests that anyone who sees the movie not tell the ending. ;)
Clouzot, who had just come off his Palme D'Or winning film "The Wages of Fear," scooped up the rights of the story before Hitchcock could get to it. Clouzot, however, does his best to "Hitchcock" the film and builds up the tension exquisitely. The way the tension accumulates is reminiscent of "Rosemary's Baby." It starts off slowly and subtly. By the climax, you are leaning forward, hand-covering your mouth, heart-pounding, and skin-crawling with fear. It is not a "jump-out-of-seat" scary. Rather, it is a more haunting scare that gets in your head, which I think makes it a really effective and memorable horror film.
At the same time, the film is refreshing in that it has two strong female leads. Clouzot presents us with two women who, initially at least, band together and stand up to the abuse. They try to break the chains of the oppressive patriarchy. It is no coinsidence that the film focuses on two female teachers in an all boys boarding school. It is, I think, a nice prelude to the feminist movement of the 1960s.
Leave it to a Frenchman to be audacious enough to challenge the great Englishman Alfred Hitchcock for the title of Master of Suspense. Clouzot does an excellent job at piling on tension and with keeping the audience riveted while providing a couple of strong female leads. If you are a major fan of Hitchcock, or 'Rosemary's Baby,' you should definitely check out Clouzot's "Diabolique." It has all the great scares of the best horror movies, and does need to make you jump out of your seat to give you nightmares.