Le Corbeau

Clouzot's second film is a disturbing probe into the group psychology of terror, couched within the framework of an excellently mounted thriller. Based on a celebrated true story from before the war, the plot deals with the effects on a small town of an outbreak of poison pen letters from a source unknown to the inhabitants, or to the audience. As Clouzot establishes viable guilt in character after character, and tensions among the recipients of the letters begin to result in suicides, the mood of all-embracing suspicion is marvelously developed in visual terms. “Le Corbeau presents a world in which the façade of respectability cloaks a collective guilt….(It was) denounced by the Church for blasphemy, by the Vichy government and the Resistance movement for its alleged slur on the national character, and by the Gestapo for its attack on the practices of anonymous informants” (LACMA).

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