PANIC (PANIQUE) (director/writer: Julien Duvivier; screenwriters: Charles Spaak/based on the novel Les Fiançailles de Monsieur Hire by Georges Simenon; cinematographer: Nicolas Hayer; editor: Marthe Poncin ; music: Jean Wiener; cast: Michel Simon (Monsieur Hire), Viviane Romance (Alice), Paul Bernard (Albert), Max Dalban (Capoulade), Charles Dorat (Inspector Michelet); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Pierre O'Connell ; Filmsonor; 1946-France-in French with English subtitles)

"It's more a psychological thriller than a criminal one."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A psychological crime thriller finely directed by Julien Duvivier ("Pepe Le Moko"/"Man in the Raincoat"/"Le Golem"), who is known for his stylistic "poetic realism" films. Panic is based on the novel Les Fiançailles de Monsieur Hire by Georges Simenon. The bleak black and white shot screenplay is co-written by Duvivier and Charles Spaak.

The respectable middle-aged loner Monsieur Hire (Michel Simon) has a crush on his not so nice neighbor Alice (Viviane Romance), just released from jail after taking the fall for her criminal boyfriend. When an old maid is slain in a robbery in the suburbs of Paris by Alice's criminal lover Albert (Paul Bernard), the pathetic and unlikable Hire is framed by the couple for her murder because he knows Albert is the culprit.

The atmosphere is dark, as it depicts how people can be misled in their rush to judgment when inflamed by rash public opinion and are driven into a frenzy by the 'lynching party' mentality voiced by some blockhead vigilantes.

It's more a psychological thriller than a criminal one, as its main interest is to show what happens when people panic and stop thinking rationally.

The film was excellently remade in 1989 as Monsieur Hire by director Patrice Leconte.

REVIEWED ON 11/6/2014       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"