The Murderer Lives at Number 21

After a quartet of corpses is found, each with the calling card of “Monsieur Durand,” the debonair detective Wens (played by the always polished Pierre Fresnay) is assigned the case that is paralyzing Paris. Thus begins Clouzot's remarkably self-assured directorial debut and his second collaboration with mystery writer Stanislas-André Steeman. The trail of bodies leads Wens to a boardinghouse at No. 21 Avenue Junot where he takes up residence, cloaked as a Protestant minister. Within this seedy domicile reside a fistful of hearty misfits-a failed novelist, a puppet maker, a fakir, a blind boxer, a retired colonel, even a bird-whistling butler. Clouzot handles his house of hams with cutting caricature, inflating the quirkiness of his suspects, any one of which could be the dread Durand. Adding froth to this wry concoction, Wens's bubbly belle Mila (played by zesty Suzy Delair) arrives to complicate the investigation. As droll as this mystery may be, it shouldn't be overlooked that The Murderer Lives at Number 21 was made during the Nazi Occupation, a time when your nearest neighbor could be your closest enemy. 

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