Deadlier Than the Male

Voici le temps des assassins

Julien DuvivierFrance113 minutes1956PGB&WFrench

Jul 30
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"Among the French directors of the classic period, [Julien] Duvivier is my favourite with Renoir," said Claude Chabrol, and Renoir echoed the praise: "If I were an architect and I had to build a monument to the cinema, I would place a statue of Duvivier above the entrance." In this cold-blooded tale of female betrayal (which Truffaut declared to be the director's best film), Jean Gabin plays a prosperous restauranteur in Les Halles who quickly discovers who is "deadlier than the male" when a young woman (Danièle Delorme) claiming to be the daughter of his ex-wife lands, cherubic and destitute, on his doorstep. The angel-faced intruder soon turns out to be a psychotic liar and quite possibly homicidal, and Gabin's possessive mother and spiteful housekeeper are not spared from the director's baleful appraisal of the female sex. Reeking with local atmosphere, soused on noir misogyny, Deadlier Than the Male luxuriates in a classic tough-guy performance by Gabin, enjoyable culinary scenes, and a bleak vision of the human beast — especially the "distaff half."