Quai des Orfèvres

After a four-year hiatus, Clouzot returned to the cinema with this ornately atmospheric tale of a murky murder and the revelations that follow. Set in the smoky halls of Paris's midforties cabaret scene, this naughty noir follows the voluptuous Jenny Martineau (Suzy Delair, Clouzot's paramour at the time), a chanteuse whose star is beginning to soar. A careless flirt, Jenny much aggrieves her milquetoast mate (Bernard Blier) who can no longer loaf about when the lecherous Brignon (Charles Dullin) appears. Brignon is pure Clouzot-a bit of despicable humanity who, if anything, makes a fine corpse. And so we are taken through the rain-drenched streets of Paris in pursuit of a perpetrator who could never elude the indefatigable Inspector Antoine, played by the incomparable Louis Jouvet. Unassuming in his manner, Antoine is a sly investigator who has built his career upon the dusky side of the human soul. In this way, the wry inspector is a stand-in for director Clouzot, whose own dim view sheds light on our darkest corners.

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