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Henri Georges Clouzot's career : a screenwriter from the thirties,he became a director in 1942 ,working for the Continental,a German firm ,and produced "Le Corbeau" the following year .His career ran into difficulties after the Liberation and he was not allowed to work till 1947.When he finally returned ,his career went from strength to strength ,with "Quai Des Orfèvres" ,"wages of fear" and "Les Diaboliques".Unfairly trashed by the Nouvelle Vague,he was not able to carry through his too ambitious "L'Enfer" .He remains one of the most important French directors of all time,his movies being often remade.Written by
Clouzot was one of the absolute masters of the French cinema ,the only one who enjoys TWO movies in the IMDb top 250, an incredible feat for a director from France.
This documentary is a must for his fans (that is to say for people who do not think that French cinema began with the Nouvelle Vague );sometimes labeled "Cinema De Papa " ,what an insult for an artist who took more chances than any highbrow of the early sixties!
The documentary shows how his movies were often a sign of a times.In his occupied country , HGC was given Carte Blanche by German Continental producer Graven whom Goebbels had urged to give French audience "light" movies. "Le Corbeau " was anything but light: its depiction of informing reflected the bundles of letters the French would send to inform against the Jews.
At the liberation,HGC was suspended for two years . The documentary focuses on the classic "Quai Des Orfèvres" and many of it great scenes.But the director's own vision of the post-war days ,his settlement of scores ,"Manon", is sadly passed over in silence.The same goes for "Les Espions" his most complex work,which depicted the cold war cynically.
Much time is given over to everyone's favorites "Le Salaire De La Peur" and "Les Diaboliques " the IMDb users took to the top 250 movies and which were both remade in US.They put HGC's second wife ,Vera,under the spotlight ; here again, the director's attitude was ambiguous :he did love this very attractive South-American and he would bully her as much as he did for his other actors ;Roger Boussinot,who hated "Les Diaboliques " , wrote:" it's not one of its least morbid appeals to see his wife (who had a heart condition in real life) play her own role on the screen.
With the underrated "La Vérité" ,his work had,once again, its finger on the pulse of a changing society ,not yet prepared to accept that a woman should live like a man .That was Brigitte Bardot's finest performance -she wrote it was her best movie in her memoirs-,the scene when she cries out of pain ,in front of her judges and the populace ,afraid of an incipient women's lib has remained in our memories.
An educated man,HGC never stopped experimenting : he filmed Picasso at work,an invaluable document,and as the young Turks of the Nouvelle Vaguelette were ridiculing him, he tackled his most ambitious work ,"L'Enfer" which would have made his detractors bite the dust ,if it had been completed (people interested in this doomed project should see 'L'Enfer D'Henri-Georges Clouzot" an absorbing documentary ).Some of its elements were integrated into his swansong ,"La Prisonnière".
Let this documentary be an introduction to HGC for people who only know his two top 250 movies.
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