Jenny Lamour (Suzy Delair) is an ambitious chanteuse looking for fame in the music halls of post war Paris. Her pianist husband Maurice Bernard Blier) loves her but is also a very jealous man. When the lecherous owner of a film studio, George Brignon (Charles Dullin), promises her a part in one of his movies – for a price – it triggers a series of events that do not bode well for the couple in “Quai des Orfevres.”
Jenny’s aspirations to be a singing sensation, and her self perceived ability to control the men around her, make her accept a clandestine “dinner” with the sleazy producer. When Maurice finds out about the upcoming assignation he is furious and forbids his wife to go. Later, he finds proof that she defied him and he heads to Brignon’s home for a potentially murderous confrontation. (Maurice, earlier, stated in front of witnesses that he would kill the lecherous producer if he touched Jenny.) When he gets to the palatial home, though, he finds that someone beat him to the punch and killed the mogul.
Maurice, realizing that he, because of his outburst and threat to kill Brignon, is a prime suspect and attempts to build a shaky alibi. He also learns some shocking news that threatens disaster, arrest and prison but you have to watch the film to find out. Things kick into gear when Inspector Antoine (Louis Jouvet) is assigned to investigate the murder and, with a character that Colombo could have been modeled after, uses absent minded mannerisms and “Oh, I have one more question” to get to the truth.
Very typical of Clouzot’s films, he utilizes sound and score to enhance tension and his penchant for mystery uses the whodunit to good effect, always shifting his subjects from innocence to guilt and back. Acting is second tier compared to his later films (see “Les Diabolique”) but the story, its frantic pace and clever twists make this a fun look at a classic director’s early work. I give it a B+.
Laura gives "Quai des Orfevers" an A-.
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