Last Featured: Dec. 1, 2013
In terms of classic suspense, you can’t do much better than the French master Henri-Georges Clouzot. Diabolique stars the beautiful French actress Simone Signoret and Véra Clouzot, the director’s own wife.
In terms of classic suspense, you can’t do much better than the French master Henri-Georges Clouzot. Diabolique stars the beautiful French actress Simone Signoret and Véra Clouzot, the director’s wife. Not to be confused with the far less intense 1996 Hollywood remake with Sharon Stone, this black-and-white, slow burn of a film is right up there with the work of Alfred Hitchcock.
Diabolique is set in a French boarding school. Its brilliant irony and study of evil juxtaposes well with the spirited energy of the school’s innocent children. The wife and mistress of the sadistic headmaster conspire to drown him in a bathtub and dispose of his body. But as always, complications arise, and we’ll leave the rest to your discovery as the film’s final panel instructs us to.
Clouzot financed the picture with the proceeds from his earlier success, The Wages of Fear, a thriller about a team of truck drivers commissioned to deliver a convoy of nitroglycerin across the Andes. Both films were internationally acclaimed and have been widely imitated. Sadly, Véra Clouzot died from a heart attack five years after the completion of Diabolique, and her husband went into a dark depression, ending his brilliant career. This vestige of his talented mind is a testament to what he did—and would have likely continued to—accomplish.