DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

SPOTLIGHT ON A MURDERER (PLEINS FEUX SUR PASSASSIN) (director/writer: Georges Franju; screenwriters: Perre Boileau/Thomas Narcejac; cinematographer: Marcel Fradetal; editor: Gilbert Natot; music: Maurice Jarre; cast: Pierre Brasseur (Herve), Pascale Audret (Jeanne), Marianne Koch (Edwige), Dany Saval (Micheline), Jean-Louis Trintignant (Jean-Marie), Georges Rolin (Claude Benoist-Sainval), Jean Babilee (Christian de Kerloguen); Runtime: 88; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jules Borkon; Flicker Alley; 1961-France-in French with English subtitles)

"What's fascinating is the film's mise-en-scène."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Georges Franju ("The Keepers"/"Eyes Without A Face"/"Judex") adapts the story from the team of Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac ("Diabolique" and "Vertigo"). The dark lyrical thriller brilliantly features a series of strange images. What's fascinating is the film's mise-en-scène. It's Franju at the top of his game.

Eccentric home owner (Pierre Brasseur) lies dead encased with his favorite wind-up miniature ballerina behind a mirror. His greedy heirs must according to the law wait five years to declare the missing person dead. The shifty cousins attempt to maintain the upkeep of the expensive home they will probably inherit without having the necessary funds. They thereby devise a means for paying visitors to come to a son et lumiere show at the house. They use sound effects piped from discrete loudspeakers and vast arc lights to tell the history of the castle and its cursed legends. During the show several of the cousins meet with fatal accidents. One of the cousins, Jean-Louis Trintignant, smells a rat, thinking a rival is eliminating his competition. But no one else believes him.

The atmosphere is wonderfully haunting, the humor is wonderfully absurd, and the strangeness of the story is surreal. The film is hard to shake off, as it lingers in your thoughts long after seeing it.

The pic commercially bombed on its theater release in France and was not seen abroad. When its greatness was discovered at a later date, the film thankfully got a new life with the public.

REVIEWED ON 10/12/2015       GRADE: B+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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