Quai Des Orfévres

Bomb Rating: 

As far as I know, the title of this film refers to the French detective agency, the equivalent of Scotland Yard. So I guess the title of the film is sort of like "Scotland Yard," but somehow that doesn't satisfy me. First of all, I don't really know what the title of the film means, so it's impossible to explain to anybody. Secondly, I don't know how to pronounce the title, so I can't even tell somebody what film I'm talking about. "Diabolique" I can pronounce. I mean, if there are going to be subtitles, then why can't somebody translate the damn title for me? Is that so unreasonable?

This is a 1947 film by director Henri-Georges Clouzot. Supposedly, it's a film noir, though apparently the French have some different idea about what constitutes this. Apparently, they seem to think that slapping a detective into the mix makes it noir enough. This is because the French are evidently woozy from cheese and armpit fumes.

Basically what happens is that Jenny (Suzy Delair) is married to Bernard (Maurice Martineau). Jenny is a showgirl. Bernard is the French equivalent of Bob Newhart. Jenny is determined to claw her way up the showbiz ladder by any means necessary, and when she comes on too strong to a slimy rich guy, Bernard freaks. Next thing we know, slimy rich guy is dead and everybody is a suspect.

Enter Detective Lt. Antoine (Louis Jouvet), an intellectual oddball with an adopted black child. He's a man out for the facts and the only one who suspects that the obvious take on the murder may not be true. For a film with such a reputation as this, the happenstance ending is laughable. Then again, the filmmakers want us to think the film isn't about the plot, but about the characters. And this is supposed to be a murder mystery? Sure, it's not about the plot.

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Quai des Orfevres

Murray 's picture


I wish you'd spent more time analyzing the movie and less time complaining--but maybe that's your persona.

Although I agree with you that this isn't noir as we Americans define the term, there are noir elements--especially, the cinematography and the documentary style.

But more important: The performances are gripping. I don't think I've ever seen a better police inspector, and the victim is brilliantly portrayed--a truly memorable character.

The opening was a bit slow, but then the pace picks up. I very much enjoyed the final 60 minutes.

The special feature--a discussion of the production by several of the actors and the director--is also gripping and illuminating.

In other words, I strongly recommend the movie.

For another French thriller that isn't really about the plot

FearlessFreep's picture

Try Francois Truffaut's MISSISSIPPI MERMAID.


Mississippi Mermaid irritated the hell out of me Freep

Dan_in_Cincinnati's picture

Maybe you can tell me what it was about.  I have no idea unless it's supposed to prove the meaninglessness of life.

{;-) Dan in Miami


It was about sex

FearlessFreep's picture

Like Bogart and Bacall in TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT.


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