Le Corbeau (The Raven)

on February 23, 1948 by Ed Scheid
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“Le Corbeau” is an engrossing suspense film that was directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot in 1943 during the Nazi Occupation of France. In a small French town, an anonymous hand-written letter accuses Dr. Remy Germain (Pierre Fresnay) of an illicit affair with the wife (Micheline Francey) of a colleague (Pierre Larquey). Along with the message is the drawing of a raven. (“Corbeau” translates as both raven and a writer of a poison pen letter.) Other townspeople soon receive accusatory letters, revealing hidden resentments and suspicions. Germain tries to uncover the identity of the author of the mysterious notes. One of the prime suspects is Denise (Ginette Leclerc), one of his patients, who fakes illness for bedroom visits from Germain.

As in his following films “Diabolique” and “Wages of Fear,” Clouzot (who also co-wrote the intricate screenplay) is a master at building and maintaining tension. The actors give incisive portraits of a variety of personalities as the town exposes its dark side. Starring Pierre Fresnay, Ginette Leclerc and Micheline Francey. Directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot. Written by Louis Chavance and Henri-Georges Clouzot. Produced by Rene Montis and Raoul Ploquin. A Cowboy release. Drama. French-language; subtitled. Not yet rated. Running time: 101 min.

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