Voici le temps des assassins (1956)

MovieCovers-137729-192601-VOICI LE TEMPS DES ASSASSINSIt took me some time to get properly in tune with Duvivier’s movie. Unexpected difficulties arose, I guess, from a completely idiotic title under which this movie is known in the US. I mean – Deadlier than the male? Seriously? Seems that translators of old were quite nonchalant both with translation and adaptation of foreign movies. Must be all that crack they used to smoke after the War. Whatever the reason Deadlier than the male doesn’t even hint to nature of the business so it took me awhile to properly understand that what I’m watching is not just a drama, but a crime-drama up there with the best of them. You know the type. Not really a noir but full of femme fatales regardless. After all, it’s happening in France.

Once this has been properly understood, real problems appeared. Sort of which you can’t get rid of until after the end of the movie (sometimes not even then). For example – the biggest challenge here was enduring a 100-minute movie that irritated me with every single part of its digital being. This is in itself by no means a rare thing. Stuff tends to irritate me quite a lot these days. But – there is a certain variance to irritation. Some things irritate because they’re bad, stupid, slow, incompetent, or any combination of the above. Other things…other things irritate differently. In this instance, irritation stems from the sheer brilliance of Danièle Delorme.    

bscap0001She plays a character any sane person would want to impale on a stick (as our Turk friends used to do few years back) and she plays it magnificently. Now, interacting with scheming bitches is one thing. If they’re any good, you won’t even know what hit you. But, watching scheming bitches do their routine and not being able to do anything about it is agonizing. Part of you wants to scream, part of you wants to break something (a head, a kneecap, whatever you got) and the sane part of you tries to rein in all these emotions by reminding you that it’s only a movie and that if you break something you’re never gonna hear the end of it from missus.

Yes, we’re all these big, bad, cynics who were around when Eastern Bloc was an actual fact, we rarely react with emotions to anything that has something to do with art – we’ve seen it all before, and we’ve seen it done better – and we fart in your general direction etc., but sometimes, someone, manages to punch right through that carefully cultivated protective shell after which hilarity ensues. Suddenly, we remember that there is a life outside our intellectual barrier. So, if for anything, kudos to Julien Duvivier for that.

bscap0000Regardless of me being crazy like that (getting irritated by QUALITY fiction), Voici le temps des assassins is genuinely good. As far as I can tell (this irritation is so rare that it managed to successfully distract me from quite a lot of everything else) it’s no masterpiece but it’s far from genre-crap people used to and still make. Not sure how this would fare with feminists, though. Once again, woman is demonized (just listen to that – Deadlier than the male) from almost every aspect, her sole being is an act of pure aggression towards cultured and cultivated, ordered male world. Still, one might argue that the character of Catherine, however despicable it might be, is the only honest (or true in an ontological sense) character in an entire movie-universe. Anyhow, there’s bound to be something more than your average “she’s a villain” plot here but this time I was too distracted to look for it. You’ll have to take care of yourself.

Directed by Julien Duvivier
Produced by René Bezard
Raymond Borderie
Pierre Cabaud
Screenplay by Julien Duvivier
Charles Dorat
Pierre-Aristide Bréal
Based on a story by Julien Duvivier
Charles Dorat
Maurice Bessy
Starring Jean Gabin
Danièle Delorme
Music by Jean Wiener
Cinematography Armand Thirard
Edited by Marthe Poncin