Whilst Henri-Georges Clouzot may have built up a reputation of being difficult to work with and temperamental, there’s no denying the quality of his films. With The Wages of Fear and Les Diaboliques, he made two of the best films of the 1950s. His speciality was thrillers. However, his first film, The Murderer Lives at Number 21, is more comedic. Although, it does contain elements of mystery and murder which would become his hallmark.
A mysterious serial killer, who calls himself ‘Monsieur Durand’, is terrorising the streets. Inspector Wenceslas (Pierre Fresnay) hasn’t long to solve the crime if he values his job. Wens’ mistress, and struggling actress, Mila Malou (Suzy Delair), is determined to help his capture the villain. When Wens gets a tip-off that the killer is living at number 21 avenue Junot, he goes undercover; taking lodgings as a clergyman. However, Mila isn’t going to let him do it alone.
The Murderer Lives at Number 21 is a mix of almost slapstick humour and light drama. However, whilst the actors are deliriously hamming it up, there’s a palpable air of tension as Wens gets closer to unmasking the killer. Indeed, the mystery will have you fooled until the very end. On the face of it, The Murderer Lives at Number 21 is a light and airy whodunit. Clouzot cleverly uses this as a device to distract you from the truth.
- Gorgeous Gaumont restoration of the film in its original aspect ratio, presented in 1080p on the Blu-ray
- Optional English subtitles
- An exclusive video interview with French film scholar Ginette Vincendeau about Clouzot and his debut
- A 28-page booklet featuring:
- – An essay about the film by scholar Judith Mayne
- – An extract about Occupation cinema from scholar Christopher Lloyd’s book about Clouzot
- – Newly translated interview extracts about the making of the film by Clouzot
- – A short testimonial by Jean Cocteau
The Murderer Lives at Number 21 is released on Dual Format by Eureka Entertainment as part of their Masters of Cinema collection on Monday 12 June.