Strangers in the House & Jean's Return
December 5, 2011
Strangers in the House
(Les Inconnus dans la Maison)
Directed by Henri Decoin. With Raimu, Juliette Faber, Jean Tissier
France 1942, 35mm, b/w, 95 min. French with English subtitles
Among the strongest of the late 1930s screenplays that paved the way to Clouzot's directorial career is this striking adaptation of a George Simenon crime thriller directed by Henri Decoin. An important companion piece to Le Corbeau, Les Inconnus dans la Maison offers a similarly unflattering portrait of provincial France as scandals and secrets tumble out of a town's collective closet during the course of the investigation and trial to discover who killed the corpse found in a drunken lawyer's attic.
Jean's Return (Le Retour de Jean)
Directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot. With Louis Jouvet, Noël Roquevert, Jean Brochard
France 1949, digital video, b/w, 28 min. In French
Clouzot’s first film after Le Corbeau – and after his forced suspension on charges of collaboration with the Vichy regime – was this dark and startling episode within the 1949 omnibus film Retour à la Vie. A remarkable commentary on a deeper type of postwar trauma and spiritual malaise, Le Retour de Jean stars the great Louis Jouvet as a former prisoner of war who meets his Nazi torturer one lonely night in a seedy boarding house, an unsettling surprise encounter that complicates the notion of a return to normalcy.