Diabolique (1955)

Dir. Henri-Georges Clouzot
114 minutes
(Entertainment Weekly)

Like Psycho, this film won’t have the impact on modern audiences because they’ve seen the many other thrillers that have similar qualities to this film. Having said that, this is a solid film that kept me entertained for the most part.

There are two things that stand out for me. First, Vera Clouzot (the director’s wife, I presume) did a fine job and creating tension and anxiety for the audience. I believed and felt her anxiety and stress. She was particularly effective in using her eyes.(Btw, her looks reminded me of Greta Garbo, which was sort of distracting, particuarly since Garbo and Vera Clouzot are so beautiful.)


The other thing that stands out is the sequence when Christina (Vera Clouzot) investigates sounds she hears in the hallway. If you’ve ever got up the courage to investigate a noise down a dark corridor, you’ll know that Clouzot (both of them) capture this situation perfectly. Two things stood out: one, Christina shouts, “Who’s there?” and the words boom out, contrasting with the silence making the moment seem especially eerie. The other moment was when the light switch went off and Christina screams and runs back to her room. The scream is one of the more realistic screams of terror I have heard (better than the one’s by Janet Leigh, and I would say Fay Wray, although Wray’s vocal chord strength is impressive). I have to wonder if the actor didn’t know beforehand that the lights would be turned off or if some other “trick” was used to get her to scream that way (maybe someone grabbed her leg from under the table).

The viewing of this film completes the Entertainment Weekly list.

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