The Murderer Lives at Number 21

1942 [FRENCH]

Comedy / Crime / Mystery / Thriller

IMDb Rating 7.4 10 2886

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February 24, 2021 at 01:04 AM


720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
782.65 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 25 min
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1.42 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 25 min
P/S counting...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by the red duchess 8 / 10

Comedy thriller or damning allegory for Occupied France? (possible spoiler in last paragraph)

Henri-Georges Clouzot is generally considered cinema's master of misanthropy, with 'Le Corbeau', 'Les Diaboliques' and 'The wages of fear' standing as damning testaments to all that is mean and ugly in human nature.

'L'assassin habite au 21' may surprise fans of his work with its light, parodic tone. The assassin is M. Durand, an unseen serial killer who always leaves his calling card at the scene of the crime. Durand is not just elusive, but seems to be able to be in all places at all times. Political pressure is put on the police to get to the bottom of the case, with Inspecteur Wenceslas 'Wens' Vorobechik, a dandy living in an unexpectedly plush, Astaire and Rogers-type house, complete with maid, and live-in lover, the brash Mila Milou, a slappy Jeanette MacDonald-wannabe desperate for a job.

A tip-off leads Wens to a boarding house, peopled by a rare band of eccentrics (an elderly unpublished authoress, a disgraced abortionist, a magician, an artisan, the landlady, and a bizarre butler who does animal impressions). Wens disguises himself as a pastor to try and uncover the murderer, but every time he thinks he's caught the murderer, another homicide takes place.

From the very first shot, a spookily creaking door overemphasised by the music and shut be an indifferent barman, we know we're closer to the comic-fantasy crime world of Carne's 'Drole de drame' than any of Clouzot's later, bleakly inexorable classics. The pantomime aspect of the plot, with its suave killer, eccentric suspects, foppish investigator, is emphasised by the references to theatre throughout - Mila's singing; Wens' disguise; the soirees at 21; the magician's elaborate room and show (framing an excellent murder); and the final concert that provides background for the climax. Fun is also to be had in the bickering between the central lovers, and the spineless buck-passing within the police force.

This last gives a clue to the film's true worth. 'L'assassin' was produced during the Nazi Occupation of France, a difficult time for Clouzot, whose next film, the savagely satiric 'Le Corbeau', was denounced by the Resistance as pro-Nazi. It might seem jarring to see comically buffoonish policemen, when we know outside the cinemas the Gestapo are out collecting fodder for concentration camps, but Clouzot manages to smuggle in darker truths. The opening murder, where the drunken lottery-winner is relentlessly stalked and finally stabbed, is shot, unedited, from the point of view of the killer, and so may be the first slasher sequence in movies; but a film where the camera has been the authority, the equivalent of the third person narrator in a novel, and the point of view has been usurped by a faceless, undefeatable killer, randomly slaughtering in a familiar environment, has obvious resonance in a France under the terror of the Nazis.

Ditto the plot resolution. The narrative, albeit comically, utilises the old-fashioned puzzle format (e.g. Agatha Christie), where crime is concentrated in an artificial setting, is rooted out by a clever detective, restoring order. In Clouzot's film, it's not just a fact that every one's a suspect: every suspect is a killer. Again, in a France where good bourgeoises were informing daily on their neighbours, Clouzot's film or solution isn't very far-fetched. The 'singular' assassin of the title looked at this way is not a deception, but a finger pointed at the whole of France, just as 'Le Corbeau' would a year later.

Reviewed by dbdumonteil 10 / 10

Clouzot's brilliant debut.

In 1941,Georges Lacombe made "le dernier des six",adapted from a Stanislas André Steeman book.Clouzot wrote the script,and introduced his girlfriend Suzy Delair (Mila Malou, a character whom he created from start to finish,Steeman's sleuth M.Wens was a bachelor).

So here we are again:a new Steeman detective story (probably his masterpiece),Fresnay as the sleuth,and Delair a pain in the neck of a singer.(She had begun to "launch " her " career" of chanteuse in "le dernier des six";I recommend this earlier work to all these who enjoyed the 1942 movie)Steeman did not like the adaptation.The couple Delair/FResnay was not his cup of tea,and anyway,like Hercule Poirot doesn't investigate in "and then there were none",M.Wens (therefore Mila Malou,Clouzot's invention)is absent from the novel "l'assassin habite au 21".But what infuriated Steeman,twas mainly that his story was set in London,and Clouzot (German Occupation) was compelled to film in Paris.

What's the matter?Clouzot's first opus,is a gem,one of these mysteries with the ending you'll never guess.Agatha Christie's fans will relish watching that!Shall I give a clue ?Mathematically,it's a ternary notation.Computers,you can forget it!For the rest,my lips are sealed.

All Clouzot's work ,all that he will brilliantly develop in subsequent works is already here :a rotten microcosm (the boarding-house with a lot of wicked old people predates the school in "les diaboliques" and the small town in "le corbeau".His sarcastic humor shines here there and everywhere.He asserts his extraordinary skills by detailing the supporting characters.Of course a diabolical suspense (and admire the elegance of Clouzot's style,when Fresnay/Wens finds out what's been going on.)

In a nutshell,a serial killer is rampant in town:they discover his address.Alas it's a boarding-house!So whodunit?Sometimes I wonder whether this charming thriller might not be superior to the renowned "le corbeau" which was released the following year.With it,a director who influenced countless ones was born.

Reviewed by vogonify 7 / 10

A beautiful thriller

What a smart film this is! It took me a while to get around after the proverbial rug was pulled from under my feet towards its climax.

It is a thriller, but not just that. It is a comedy, but never distracting from the overall tone. It is intelligent, but doesn't take a cheat breather at the end to cover up writing inadequacies.

A policeman has to catch a serial killer in two days. He has for company an ambitious woman who is far from qualified to be in situations she intends to be in. He has a clue. And he has a set of strange people amongst whom he feels he has his target.

A fabulous whodunit ensues. Add to this the beautiful language of the French in what is a fairly verbose film, and you have an absolute must- see. Along with Laura, this is one of my favourite suspense thrillers from the 40s and I definitely recommend it.

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