The wife and lover of a cruel, abusive headmaster conspire to murder him - but after dumping his body, it vanishes.
First, an important note: the director, Henri-Georges Clouzot, was banned from filmmaking in France for two years for working for a German-owned French film company under Vichy France. To the best of my knowledge, he did not collaborate with the Nazis directly, nor did he create state propaganda, nor did he contribute to their machinery of death. That being said, his work during this period almost certainly generated profits for German industry under the Nazi regime. He was fired from his position with this company after the release of Le Corbeau, a film which both the French Resistance and the Vichy government took umbrage with. I would be remiss to not inform you of this, and encourage you to look into it for your own conscience's sake.
Literally swiped from under Hitchcock's nose, Les Diaboliques is a hell of a thriller. While gently cribbing from "perfect crime" narratives, the end result is a tightly-wound ball of anxious tension, which suddenly snaps with an ending that features one of the clearest and most terrifying images in the medium. For my money, Clouzot is a master of tension; The Wages of Fear, while belonging much less on a horror-tuned list, is quite possibly the most anxiety-inducing film of all time. Never has a murder been quite as justified, and yet quite so consequential, as in Les Diaboliques.
CAST + CREW
Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot (The Wages of Fear,
Le Corbeau, The Mystery of Picasso)
Cast: Simone Signoret (Thérèse Raquin, Army of Shadows)
Véra Clouzot (The Wages of Fear, Les Espions)
Paul Meurisse (Le deuxième souffle, La Vérité)
CONTENT (spoilered; highlight for warnings)
domestic violence, violence against women, drowning, gaslighting, self-harm
CAREER STATS [on a scale from 1 (least) to 10 (most)]
At least an equal to the best of Hitchcock.
Further along the thriller axis - but some indelible images.
Y O U W I L L G A S P
An absolute classic that holds up in every conceivable way.
The Wages of Fear, Rope, Strangers on a Train