The bright lights of showbusiness has led many astray over the years. As recent events have sadly illustrated all too well, the power almost always rests with men, and it’s a far too regularly abused and misused. As a young actress and singer seeking her big break, the lively music halls of 1940s Paris are not that far removed in many ways from today’s Hollywood. In Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Quai des Orfèvres a young starlet’s desperation to succeed leads to bloody consequences.
Jenny Lamour (Suzy Delair) is determined to be a success in the theatre and is prepared to do whatever it takes. Her husband is the mild-mannered and popular Maurice (Bernard Blier), who loves her but has a jealous streak. Jenny’s ticket to fame and fortune is Georges Brignon (Charles Dullin), an old lecherous businessman with the connections and money to make it happen. When he’s found dead in his apartment, Inspector Antoine (Louis Jouvet) has his suspicions.
Quai des Orfèvres is a dizzy and dazzling crime drama which opens like something from a songbook before turning much darker. Clouzot wrote the screenplay with Jean Ferry based on Stanislas-André Steeman’s book Légitime défense. However, as he couldn’t get hold of a copy, he wrote from memory. Thus, it deviates a lot from the source material. Delair is luminous as our budding starlet, but it’s Simone Renant as Maurice’s close friend who steals the show. Quai des Orfèvres is a classy thriller which profits from some brilliant writing.
Quai des Orfèvres is released on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Download by StudioCanal on 5 March.