A Film For January: Diabolique

diabolique
In a boys’ boarding school in provincial France a bullying and domineering headmaster, Michel Delassalle (Paul Meurisse) is loathed by the boys’, the teaching staff, and his wife Christina (Vera Clouzot). The science and maths teacher is Nicole Horner (Simone Signoret) who until recently has been having an affair with Michel.  The fragile wife and willful mistress form an alliance and hatch an elaborate plan to murder Michel and get rid of his body. But then things start to appear and disappear and nothing is as it seems – are they going mad?

Directed by Henri-George Clouzot in 1955, Diabolique is properly, stylishly creepy! The lighting is pure ‘noir’, with some terrific lattice worked screens that cast fabulous shadows and hiding places! The two women work together like a traditional couple, the strong decisive Nicole taking the lead and the meek Christine following – or so it seems.  Because this film has so many twists that actually any one could be capable of anything, and anything could happen. All in an incredibly realistic setting, the overcast dankness, gives this the feeling of any ordinary day.

diabolique2
I can’t see a credit for the costume designer but the clothes are fabulous, the same outfits are worn repeatedly, which adds to the ordinariness. Christine has a younger more girlish wardrobe of full skirts, polka dots and the best raincoat ever, all with deep pockets and a cinched in waist. Nicole strides about in the shapeliest pencil skirts and shirt dresses worn with sunglasses and a nonchalantly hanging cigarette. She manages to thrust her hands in her pockets and keep her cardigan on her shoulders as she moves!

This is a truly brilliant film that ends with a warning not to give the story away!
And for January? well it is about resolve and new beginnings and the weather was spot on. . .

 

 

 

 

13 thoughts on “A Film For January: Diabolique

    1. No I don’t think I have, as I’m trying to read more fiction in translation so I’m trying to watch more international film – it’s all quite an education!

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  1. Loved this one too, and I totally agree about the effortless stylishness of the clothes! I’m sure I’ve said this to you before (I certainly said it to somebody recently!), but the book it’s based on is well worth reading too – She Who Was No More by Boileau-Narcejac. It’s different enough to not feel just like reading the film script.

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      1. Yes, I can see why Hitchcock fought to make this film too. I hear that the film is also based on the novel The Woman Who Was No More (Celle qui n’était plus) and I cannot wait to read that one, too!

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