Erich Von Stroheim had three 'French' periods, the late 30s, late 40s and late 50s and this is from the first period - roughly 1937-1940. It would perhaps be foolish to equate it with two other films from that first period, Les Disparus de St Agil and La Grande Illusion, but neither is it chopped liver. Pierre Chenal is an underrated director who worked with Von Stroheim several times and was still turning out interesting stuff - The Killer Knows The Score, Dangerous Games - at the end of his career and this is a neat little entry which is fairly representative of French cinema at the time. At 80 minutes it equates to the Hollywwod 'program' picture or the 'quota quickies' produced in England, solid fare designed to fill the bottom half of a double bill supporting an 'A' picture (which is why they were also known as 'B' pictures - or even one equal half of a double bill of two 'B' pictures (let's face it, moviegoers got a lot for their money in those days; two feature films, cartoon, newsreel plus a one or two reel 'magazine', The March Of Time, Pathe Pictorial, Look At Life; how come WE accept one feature, 50 commercials and a couple of trailers). This one sees Von Stroheim as a telepathist working in a plush Parisian nite-club (telepathy was a not-so-elaborate con which was code-based so that the usually blindfolded maestro relied on an Assistant to say 'I'm holding a silver object' or some such which would be the code for a wristwatch, etc. Incredibly it actually flourished in England up to the fifties via a husband-and-wife act The Piddingtons) where one night an old enemy turns up by chance. Naturally he has to be killed and Von Stroheim is up to the task and having done so he bribes one of the 'hostesses' at the club to swear he spent the night with her. Louis Jouvet, in charge of the murder investigation, isn't buying this for birdseed but lacking hard evidence he persuades a colleague, Albert Prejean, to seduce the girl and get at the truth (this, of course, would be inadmissible today). That's about it but Chenal has a sure eye and keeps the action rolling along and no way are Jouvet and Von Stroheim ever going to be less than watchable.
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Paris, 1937. Winckler kills his enemy Gordon, a Chicago mobster, from the stage of a Parisian music hall, where he performs telepathy. He pays another artist, Helene, so that she tells the police they've spent the night together, which doesn't fool Callas, the police officer who investigates the murder. He hires one of his fellow officers in order to seduce Helene.
Uploaded by: FREEMAN
October 25, 2022 at 02:23 AM