Le Corbeau Reviews
LE CORBEAU was made in Nazi-occupied France when neighbors did accuse neighbors of assisting in the Resistance. Clouzot nearly never made another movie again, but Germany lost. He was able to direct again in a sovereign France, and no more Clouzot movies would have a been a ghastly terror indeed. A world without LES DIABOLIQUES is not one in which I would like to live.
Une r├┬ (C)alisation simple mais efficace et une brochette de personnages bien camp├┬ (C)s viennent donner vie ├┬á cette intrigue au dialogues sublimes !
Un Classique du Genre et un coup de g├┬ (C)nie pour Clouzot et le Cin├┬ (C)ma Fran├┬žais du dernier si├┬Ęcle.
Though the film is slow to start, it quickly gains momentum in it's final hour as the suspects begin to pile up. People die and lives are shattered all because of the carefully chosen careless words of another.
Some wicked person begins sending anonymous, poison-pen letters around a small French town. They are inked in a distinctive style and signed "Le Corbeau." The notes' main target is Dr. Rémy Germain, whose vulnerable spots are his dalliances with women and a willingness to give abortions (a daring ingredient for a 1943 film). At least initially, the slanderous accusations greatly damage his stature in the community. The town becomes more and more agitated as the taunts continue to arrive in mailboxes, and the uproar reaches a frenzy after one note causes a suicide.
The tricky script sets up multiple plausible suspects and remains suspenseful, but scene after scene of misplaced suspicions and aghast letter readings threatens to turn repetitive. And the final act is gimmicky to the point of stretching credibility -- suddenly, the reality of this world fades and we're only watching someone's flashy screenplay.
Clouzot's direction fails to excite beyond one scene lit by a swinging light bulb -- this is workmanlike storytelling. And unfortunately, the idea of "poison-pen letters" seems a bit dated in this age of email and blogs. Fans hoping for the thrills of "Diabolique" and "The Wages of Fear" may be disappointed.