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The allegory is thick and the camera movements are vertiginous in this bleak, slow-burning noir [that] plays like an unusually direct indictment of wartime anti-Semitism in France.Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times
Viviane Romance, Michel Simon, Max Dalban, Emile Drain,
Based on a novel by Georges Simenon, Panique adapts the elements of classic film noir—a murder, a femme fatale, a romantic obsession, a frame-up, all rendered in unforgiving black-and-white—into bitter and brilliant satire. Michel Simon plays Monsieur Hire, né Hirovich, an observant loner whose awkward, faintly supercilious demeanor keeps him at a distance from his neighbors. His attraction to a new neighbor, Alice (Viviane Romance), makes him a convenient patsy for an unsavory plot. Ultimately, however, the villains of Panique are not the criminals, but the neighborhood denizens who find malicious gossip as diverting as the traveling carnival that’s just come to town. Two years after World War II, Duvivier delivers a stinging portrait of a society where intolerance still rules and justice is just another sideshow. The same sordid tale was adapted by Patrice Leconte in 1989 as Monsieur Hire.