Without a doubt Claude Chabrol (born 1930, Paris) was an important
French director, often referred to as a Gallic Alfred Hitchcock,
though to be fair to Chabrol it would be more accurate to
say the he had been heavily influenced by Hitchcock at a time
when many directors were. Chabrol was not unaware of the comparison
and even published, along with Eric Rohmer, a book on Hitchcock's
works (Hitchcock: The First Forty-four Films, 1957).
Like Hitchcock, Chabrol would often appear as a cameo in his
was one of the new European directors, along with Jean-Luc
Goddard and Francois Truffaut, who came to the fore in the
late fifties and early sixties, in what was termed the French
New Wave. And, whilst his films rarely were accorded the acclaim
that was lauded on almost everything that Goddard and Truffaut
produced, he rarely made a bad film. Even the worst of his
output still had interesting elements.
his influence waned with the turn of the century, his acerbic
view of the French bourgeoisie never did. This would become
the main vein which he would mine time and again - which was
an oddity as it was exactly this social stratum which allowed
him to produce his films.
Claude Chabrol Collection: Volume 2 box-set takes films
from his latter period, though they cover a period from 1967
When a magician is intercepted smuggling electronics which
will disable NATO's defence radar, Sharpes (Michel Bouquet),
a US agent sends tow of his best field operatives after the
boxes. When Ford (Christian Marquad) discovers the plot he
calls his wife with the good news, but while she disrobes
he is despatched by a boater wearing dandy. Suspicion for
the murder falls on Shanny (Jean Seberg), who teams up with
Fords partner, Dex (Maurice Ronet) to track down the boxes
and prove her innocence...
Road to Corinth
Route de Corinthe, 1967), directed by Chabrol from the
novel Fleuve Noir, represents a departure from his
normal bourgeois bashing thrillers. The spy genre was very
popular in the sixties, so it is strange that this film is
uniformly dull. In England The Ipcress File (1965)
and Funeral in Berlin (1966) had plunged into the gritty
realism of espionage as well as producing the stylish run
of Sean Connery Bond films, plus Hitchcock had produced many
of his thriller including North by Northwest (1959),
so its not as if Chabrol didn't have something to plunder
for influence or inspiration.
not that it doesn't have the requisite elements of a spy thriller;
Jean Seberg is dutifully pretty as the films femme fatale
and both Maurice Ronet and Christian Marquad are suitably
dimensioned as the buff heroic clothes horses. But whilst
all the elements are there Chabrol does not seem to know what
to do to inject either tension or style. In the end the characters
just seem to be wandering around a bit aimlessly.
4:3 print is good and the mono French audio track comes with
selectable English subtitles. The disc contains no extras.
Stephane Audran's husband looses the plot, in a big way, and
throws their child against the wall, she flees the family
home. Safely ensconced, or so she thinks, in a boarding house.
She has not reckoned on the power of her father-in-law, who
is determined to have the child for himself. When he cannot
find any incriminating evidence in her past he sets in motion
a plan to debauch her landlady's daughter...
The Breach (La Rupture, 1970) was written and
directed by Chabrol from an original novel (The Balloon
Man) by Charlotte Armstrong - the story having been transposed
from rural England to France.
is back where he is happiest in bourgeois bashing mode. Audran's
(Helene Regnier) simple and pure love for her child is continually
assailed by the powerful and unscrupulous. The theme of abuse
smacks you right in the face as Audran smacks her drug crazed
husband in the head with a frying pan before fleeing the house
with her injured child. She suffers both physical and mental
abuse as she is assailed in a barely disguised class battle
which leads to a shocking climax.
film is not going to be to everybody's taste. Apart from the
violent beginning the rest of the film is a bit of a slow
burner as she fights not only for her son but also for her
print is pretty good with only minor artefacts, which don't
distract from the overall enjoyment of the film, which is
presented in French with optional subtitles and no extras.
morally dissolute and abusive Philippe (Paul Gegauff) encourages
his wife, Esther (Daniele Gegauff) to take a lover, but as
she draws inspiration from them his influence on his wife
slips through his fingers...
Party (Une Partie de Plaisir, 1975) was directed
by Chabrol from a story by Paul Gegauff. Gegauff really shouldn't
have appeared in the film with his wife, soon to be ex-wife,
just ask Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. In fact the film is
a bit of an odd thing to watch, knowing that Gegauff would
die, having been stabbed to death by his second wife.
who has seen a Chabrol film will know that as soon as Philippe
encourages his wife to have an affair his hold on her would
diminish. Being one of the despised bourgeoisies he does not
take this lying down. Rather he removes his wife and subjects
her to even more increasing levels of abuse to kill her new
found independence and assert his authority. But, of course
this is a Chabrol film, where no deed goes unpunished.
it's not a bad film, if a little predictable, with little
in the way of mystery or thrills to sustain it; it drags a
little in places. Its biggest failing is Gegauff who drones
on and on, angst ridden to the point of boredom.
more nice print, in French with optional subtitles and no
Julie tires of her husband Louis, following the start of an
affair with a younger man, she determines that divorce is
not an option and kills him. She persuades her new lover to
bludgeon her husband to death. After doing the dirty deed
he runs away leaving her to face the police. However, strange
things are afoot as the supposedly dead husband appears to
be using their bank accounts...
Innocents with Dirty Hands (Les Innocents aux Mains
Sales, 1975), directed by Chabrol, is a much more superior
thriller - although the inclusion of Rod Steiger, playing
the doomed Louis, is an odd inclusion as he is patently speaking
in English and all his lines have been dubbed into French,
loosing much of Steiger's performance. Romy Schneider (Julie)
is not only beautiful but is also a great actress, so any
film which starts with a shot of her naked body would make
anyone sit up and pay attention.
course the central mystery is not whether she intended to
kill her husband; rather it is the mystery of his apparent
survival. Much of the "did she or didn't she" sustains
the film's drive, which kicks in the morning following the
murder when she wakes up alone, no lover and no body.
is nothing so incestuous or destructive than small town secrets
and feuds. When a group of self important townsfolk try to
buy Mrs Cuno's house they are rebuffed. Not wishing to loose
the lucrative land deal the townsfolk resort to threats and
intimidation. However the Cuno's are not so easily run out
of town and fight back. When things get out of hand the little,
dirty secrets of the town come under the unconventional eye
of Detective Jean Lavardin...
au Vin (Poulet au Vinaigre, 1985) directed by Chabrol
was nominated for a Golden Palm, a Cesar and a Mystfest award
and justifiably won Jean Poiret a Mystfest award for best
actor. The film is very similar in its premise to Jean
de Floret, but with more grotesques and a lot more mayhem.
Chabrol casts his cold eye on the hypocrisy of everyone involved.
Audran, who plays Madam Cuno is so over powering that she
has effectively emasculated her poor postal worker son Louis
(Lucas Belvaux), who conspires with his mother in steaming
open the towns post. There are no innocents, but there is
a blinding performance by Jean Poiret, whose character of
Inspector Lavardin was so successful that he was brought back
in his own spin-off film and a television series.
for nothing else, this box set is a great chance to see Chabrol
return to form with Cop au Vin. The film is once more
presented with a very nice print and this one comes with extras,
okay so the first one is only a trailer, but the second one
is a three minute introduction to the film - might not seem
much, but given that the pervious four films had nada, you
get to a point where you're easily pleased.
When Francois Vasseur returns home from America, he finds
his mother is running for Mayor and his father has started
a more than slightly illegal medicines laboratory. If that
were not enough dirt, Francois sleeps with his stepsister.
Now secrets have a way of getting out and in the run up to
the election all the families' dirty secrets threaten to come
Flower of Evil (La Fleur du Mal, 2003) opens with
a corpse, so we know we're in for a good ride, as Chabrol
lifts the lid on one family's secrets, and what a family.
They are so wrapped up in their own version of the world that
the most positive thing about them is their acceptance of
the semi-incestuous relationship between Francois and his
stepsister and cousin.
lives, loves, immorality and debauchery of the French bourgeoisie
are once more under the Chabrol microscope in this story of
incest and political intrigue.
it's another good post mortem of just how petty the French
bourgeoisie can be. It's a nice bookend to his work as it
deals with the same themes which informed the majority of
Chabrols work, wrapped up nicely in a thriller.
once the disc does come with a useful extra in the form of
a Making of feature, which runs for twenty-three and
a half minutes, featuring behind the scenes shots, the actors
discussing their roles and even Chabrol himself directing
Chabrol fans the box set it going to be a must. For anyone
else the set contains more good than bad films and would still
represent good value.