Dark Nights: Simenon and Cinema

7/11/13 to 8/29/13

A dozen films based on Georges Simenon's mysteries, thrillers, and melodramas are the perfect companions for your summer vacation. His Inspector Maigret has investigated hundreds of crimes, less obsessed by chasing clues than motivated by Simenon's own motto, “to understand without condemning.” His darker psychological novels detail how ordinary lives derail, whether through weakness or deluded dreams. Read the books, join us to see a rich array of movies, and discover the darkness that lies within. Includes films by Marcel Carné, Bertrand Tavernier, Claude Chabrol, Julien Duvivier, Béla Tarr, and others.

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Past Films

  • The Man from London

    • Thursday, August 29 7 pm

    Béla Tarr (Hungary, 2007). (A Londoni férfi). Hungarian master of metaphysical melancholy Béla Tarr (Sátántangó, Werckmeister Harmonies) ventures deep into the shadows of film noir with this stately, stunningly photographed adaptation of Simenon's L'homme de Londres, featuring an intense performance by Tilda Swinton. (132 mins)

  • The Clockmaker

    • Friday, August 16 8:45 pm

    Bertrand Tavernier (France, 1974). (L'horloger de Saint-Paul). Tavernier's debut feature is an expertly crafted adaptation of a Simenon novel. The clockwork existence of Descombes, the craftsman of the film's title, is shattered by the news that his son has been accused of murdering a factory spy. “An extraordinary film” (Roger Ebert).

  • Le train

    • Wednesday, August 14 7 pm

    Pierre Granier-Deferre (France, 1973). Set almost entirely on a train en route out of France just ahead of the German invasion, Le train stars Jean-Louis Trintignant as a married man and Romy Schneider as a Jewish refugee; the two meet and fall in love when the man is separated from his family. “Granier-Deferre . . . finds the right tone for the Simenon story” (The Guardian). (95 mins)

  • Red Lights

    • Friday, August 9 8:45 pm

    Cédric Kahn (France, 2003). (Feux rouges). In Kahn's taut, stylized thriller, a couple's holiday excursion to pick up their children from summer camp devolves into a nightmarish road trip. Simenon's novel is set in the United States; Kahn's lost highways span Paris to Bordeaux. “A pitch-perfect, paranoid fantasy” (Film Comment). (105 mins)

  • Betty

    • Friday, August 2 7 pm

    Claude Chabrol (France, 1992). Imported 35mm Print! Pretty young Betty (Marie Trintignant) washes up at a seedy bar, drunk, bleary, and lost, and begins to recount a tale of marriage and motherhood gone bad to an older, sympathetic woman (Stéphane Audran), in Chabrol's “ferociously accurate portrayal of two women who no longer fit the bourgeois mold” (Variety). (103 mins)

  • The Bottom of the Bottle

    • Sunday, July 28 7 pm

    Henry Hathaway (U.S., 1956). Digital Restoration! Joseph Cotton and Van Johnson star as bitterly estranged brothers, living among the not-so-gentlemanly ranchers of Nogales. Shot in ‘Scope by the great Lee Garmes. “A nice balance of studio-bred opulence and willful leanness, and a keen sense of appropriately Simenonian harshness” (Film Comment). (88 mins)

  • Monsieur Hire

    • Friday, July 26 8:45 pm

    Patrice Leconte (France, 1989). Archival Print! Michel Blanc stars as the titular Monsieur Hire, an orderly, precise man who enjoys watching people (especially his beautiful neighbor). But is he a killer, too? “Simenon was fascinated by peculiarities of human personality, which he described in elegant, simple prose, not unlike Leconte's controlled visual style here” (Roger Ebert). (81 mins)

  • The Brothers Rico

    • Saturday, July 20 8:30 pm

    Phil Karlson (U.S., 1957). Archival Print! Eddie Rico thinks he's finally out of the mob, but family ties (and “family” ties) soon draw him back in. Based on Simenon's Les frères Rico, Karlson's hardboiled noir rewrites the greeting-card sentiments of fifties family values into a treatise on entrapment and betrayal. (92 mins)

  • La Marie du port

    • Friday, July 19 7 pm

    Marcel Carné (France, 1950). Jean Gabin plays a middle-aged restaurateur falling slowly in love with his mistress's young sister in Carné's adaptation of Simenon's complex love story. “All in all, La Marie du port is a delight. It is subtle, witty, and civilized” (New Yorker). (85 mins)

  • The Man on the Eiffel Tower

    • Wednesday, July 17 7 pm

    Burgess Meredith (U.S., 1949). Archival Print! In the second adaptation of Simenon's La tête d'un homme, Burgess Meredith directs Charles Laughton as Inspector Maigret, and himself as Maigret's prey, in a bizarrely menacing Parisian cat-and-mouse game. (97 mins)

  • Stray Dog

    • Saturday, July 13 8:30 pm

    Akira Kurosawa (Japan, 1949). (Nora inu). Toshiro Mifune is a driven detective in this bravura Tokyo noir, Kurosawa's homage to Simenon. Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura star. “A bona fide masterpiece” (Time Out). (122 mins)

  • La tête d'un homme

    • Thursday, July 11 7 pm

    Julien Duvivier (France, 1933). Archival Print! The famed Inspector Maigret roams crowded Montparnasse cafes and dingy tenements as he hunts for a nihilistic, Dostoevskian killer. Both a classic film noir and a seminal police procedural. (98 mins)