1955. France. Henri-Georges Clouzot. 114 min.
Sunday, December 11, 2011, 5:15 p.m.
Theater 1 (The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 1), T1
1955. France. Directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot. Screenplay by Clouzot, Jérôme Géromini, based on the novel The Woman Who Was by Pierre Boileau, Thomas Narcejac. Clouzot is at his most delectably manipulative and malevolent in Diabolique, which famously influenced Hitchcock’s Psycho in its palpitating combination of horror, mystery, and suspense. (Boileau and Narcejac also wrote the novel on which Vertigo was based.) The headmaster of a fetid, dreary boys’ boarding school psychologically tortures and beats his fragile, repressed wife. When she conspires with his steely mistress to murder him, his body mysteriously goes missing. Images of water and emptiness, at once erotic and morbid, pervade this Jamesian ghost story, which derives much of its power from richly detailed characters, tensely held close-ups, and drawn-out silences. Don’t give away the shocking ending! 114 min.