Henri-Georges ClouzotFrance84 minutes1942B&WFrench
Deluxe, cold-blooded fun. "Few directors made a more brilliant start" (Roy Armes) than Henri-Georges Clouzot in his directorial debut, a dark, droll comedy about a serial killer who leaves a calling card, announcing "M. Durand," on each of his victims. As the title states, l'assassin lives at 21, the address of a boarding house whose occupants are a strange lot, any one of whom (even the "spinster novelist") could be the deadly Durand. Wenceslas Wens (silky Pierre Fresnay), the detective who goes undercover as a cleric to catch the killer, pays a typically amoral compliment to the suspects: "You're not really criminals; you're aesthetes of crime." His bubbly (or maybe just bubble-brained) girlfriend Mila Milou (played by Suzy Delair, Clouzot's long-time mistress) meanwhile decides to do some sleuthing on her own. Made under the Nazi Occupation and bristling with noir-ish atmosphere — a sense that almost anyone, even the most innocent-appearing, could be a criminal — The Murderer Lives at 21 is regularly selected by film historian and director Bertrand Tavernier as one of the best French crime films ever made.