Corbeau, Le / Crow, The / Raven, The / Little Town in France, A (1943)

“These letters are nothing but a web of slander and lies.”

Synopsis:
A new doctor (Pierre Fresnay) in a French village accused of committing adultery with the wife (Micheline Francey) of a psychiatrist (Pierre Larquey) is seduced by a lonely handicapped girl (Ginette Leclerc) with a nosy teenage sister (Liliane Maigné), and becomes one of many suspects — including Francey’s embittered sister (Héléna Manson) — when poison-pen letters by a mysterious author named “The Raven” begin to circulate, leading to death and misery in the town.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary writes, this “unusual film” perfectly reflects director Henri-Georges Clouzot’s “suspicious, cynical view of people — particularly the French during the Occupation”, given that “the only characters who come through unscathed are those who are persecuted”. Peary argues (I disagree) that “the doctor’s past story is hokey, and the ending… is too berserk”, but concedes that “the picture succeeds because of its fabulous premise, excellent direction, and theme (which was relevant in 1943).” As DVD Savant writes in his review, “This is the anti-Capra film, a frightening stew of misanthropy.” He adds that:

Clouzot’s pitiless community is a satire, but we immediately recognize the group behaviors as authentic. Rumors are accepted as truth, and privacy and presumption of innocence fall by the wayside. Pretty soon nobody respects anybody and the town is overrun by civilized savagery.

The imagery, cinematography, sets, and plot twists in Le Corbeau are all noteworthy, and there are more than enough embittered would-be suspects to keep viewers authentically on their toes. Film fanatics should certainly check this thriller out.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Many memorable, haunting scenes

  • Atmospheric cinematography
  • A suspenseful script

Must See?
Yes, as a still-powerful wartime classic.

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One Response to “Corbeau, Le / Crow, The / Raven, The / Little Town in France, A (1943)”

  1. Must-see. A particularly strong French film of the period.

    It’s likely that most ffs who know Clouzot’s work mainly hold him in regard for ‘Les Diaboliques’ and ‘The Wages of Fear’ – but, for my money, films of his like ‘Quai des Orfèvres’ and ‘Le Corbeau’ appear to have held up better over the years and just seem to be stronger films. (I’d like to know more of his work.)

    Unlike DVD Savant, I don’t really see satire at work in ‘Le Corbeau’ – but I do see it as being a deadly serious indictment of society.

    It’s a rather gripping film & the direction / acting are solid. The film’s final shot is effective and wonderfully on-target.

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