Henri-Georges ClouzotFrance116 minutes1955B&WFrench
Diabolical indeed! "One of the most suspenseful films ever made" (James Monaco) was taken from a novel that Hitchcock had hoped to adapt. (The film anticipates both Vertigo and Psycho.) Sordid and suspenseful, with (as Pauline Kael describes them) "undertones of strange, tainted pleasures and punishments," Diabolique is about two women who are mistreated by the callous headmaster of a provincial school for boys: Vera Clouzot, the director's wife, plays the headmaster's long-suffering spouse (tellingly given a weak heart), Simone Signoret his hard-bitten mistress. The two women conspire to murder the bastard and dump him into the school's swimming pool, but perhaps their plan wasn't as successful as they thought…. "The last 15 minutes are as suspenseful as anything ever put on film" (Monaco); "No matter how many times you've seen it, Diabolique still has one of the all-time great endings. . . . It is one of the most influential suspense scenes ever filmed" (Caryn James, The New York Times).