Le Corbeau


1h 32m 1943

Brief Synopsis

A small-town doctor fights to survive a series of poison pen letters attacking his character.

Film Details

Also Known As
Corbeau, Raven, The
MPAA Rating
NR
Genre
Suspense/Mystery
Crime
Drama
Foreign
Political
Release Date
1943

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 32m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

A vicious series of poison-pen letters spreads rumours, suspicion and fear among the inhabitants of a small French town, and one after another, they turn on each other as their hidden secrets are unveiled - but the one secret that no-one can uncover is the identity of the letters' author...

Film Details

Also Known As
Corbeau, Raven, The
MPAA Rating
NR
Genre
Suspense/Mystery
Crime
Drama
Foreign
Political
Release Date
1943

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 32m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Articles

Le Corbeau (The Crow) on DVD


In a small village in rural France, an anonymous writer sends a series of poison-pen letters to selected residents. Signed with the mysterious name of "Le Corbeau" (The Raven), the letters accuse the new physician in town, Dr. Remy Germain (Pierre Fresnay), of adultery and performing abortions. While the townspeople are scandalized by this information, it soon becomes apparent that Dr. Germain is not the only target of this vicious character assassination and that other respected members of the community will soon be victimized, their most shameful secrets exposed to all. Soon, the villagers begin turning on each other, creating an atmosphere of increasing paranoia that culminates in murder, suicide and an angry mob scene.

Le Corbeau (1943), directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot (The Wages of Fear, 1953), was actually based on a true case that occurred in the city of Tulle, France in 1917. It was there that Angele Laval tormented the local villagers with a series of malicious letters following a failed romance, resulting in three suicides. Certainly, scandalous rumors and their destructive effect (whether true or not) have been the subject of many films (These Three (1936) by Lillian Hellman and its 1961 remake, The Children's Hour to name just one example), but Le Corbeau - now on DVD from the Criterion Collection - may be the most relentlessly pessimistic treatment of this theme.

Conceived in controversy from the start, the movie was filmed in France during the German Occupation under the auspices of Continental, a distribution company run by Alfred Greven. At the time, many French directors, actors and technicians who were opposed to the Vichy regime and refused to work for the German-controlled Continental, fled to other countries for work. But Clouzot chose to remain and film Le Corbeau, which today is considered by many critics to be one of the few French film masterpieces to emerge from the World War II years. Its dark, misanthropic world view prefigures the "film noirs" Hollywood would produce in the years immediately following it. And there are several key suspense sequences here, ranking with the best of Alfred Hitchcock: the scene where the nurse, Marie Corbin (Helena Manson), flees to her home, hounded by an angry crowd; a sequence where an anonymous letter drifts down from the rafters of a church while the horrified congregation watches in silence.

While there is no denying the skillfulness of Clouzot's direction in creating such an intense psychological drama, French critics and moviegoers alike were outraged by the picture. According to author Remi Fournier Lanzoni in his critical study, French Cinema, "a large number of viewers were reluctant to praise the film, some because they had trouble categorizing it, while others were morally offended by it.Le Corbeau was indeed besieged from both sides of the political scene. The anti-Nazi activists and members of the Resistance considered Le Corbeau pro-Nazi propaganda and fiercely fought (in the clandestine press) against the screening of the film. To them, it exemplified a collaboration with and submission to the German authorities by portraying a gloomy image and the malicious character of French people...The right wing and Vichy supporters also demanded the film be banned for its immoral values."

As a result, Le Corbeau was banned from theatres in France and, after the war, Clouzot and the film's screenwriter, Louis Chavance, were accused by the newly formed Comite de liberation du cinema francais (CLCF) of deliberately making an anti-French movie, commissioned by Josef Goebbels. Despite the scandalous charges, the committee never passed a clear verdict on the film though Clouzot was given a lifetime suspension from the French film industry. The sentence was eventually reduced to two years and Clouzot was allowed to continue his career, making the much-admired crime drama, Quai des Orfevres/Jenny Lamour, in 1947. However, Le Corbeau remains one of his peak achievements. Renown film critic Peter Cowie wrote, "Suspense is not exploited for its own sake in Le Corbeau, but rather as a means of sociological analysis, and nearly a quarter of a century later still seems psychologically valid and disconcerting." In 1951, director Otto Preminger remade the film as The 13th Letter, starring Charles Boyer and Linda Darnell, but it failed to match the quality of the original.

The Criterion Collection DVD of Le Corbeau is a top notch presentation of Clouzot's thriller despite the fact that they had to work with less than desirable print elements. Yes, there are some obvious flaws (frame damage, flickering, slight audio hiss) but this is easily the best presentation of this film you're going to see and it's been kicking around in poor 16mm dupes for years. As usual for Criterion, the extras are quite nice and include a video interview with director Bertrand Tavernier, excerpts from the Clouzot section of a 1975 documentary (The Story of French Cinema by Those Who Made It), and an essay by film scholar Alan Williams.

For more information about Le Corbeau, visit Criterion Collection. To order Le Corbeau, go to TCM Shopping.

by Jeff Stafford
Le Corbeau (The Crow) On Dvd

Le Corbeau (The Crow) on DVD

In a small village in rural France, an anonymous writer sends a series of poison-pen letters to selected residents. Signed with the mysterious name of "Le Corbeau" (The Raven), the letters accuse the new physician in town, Dr. Remy Germain (Pierre Fresnay), of adultery and performing abortions. While the townspeople are scandalized by this information, it soon becomes apparent that Dr. Germain is not the only target of this vicious character assassination and that other respected members of the community will soon be victimized, their most shameful secrets exposed to all. Soon, the villagers begin turning on each other, creating an atmosphere of increasing paranoia that culminates in murder, suicide and an angry mob scene. Le Corbeau (1943), directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot (The Wages of Fear, 1953), was actually based on a true case that occurred in the city of Tulle, France in 1917. It was there that Angele Laval tormented the local villagers with a series of malicious letters following a failed romance, resulting in three suicides. Certainly, scandalous rumors and their destructive effect (whether true or not) have been the subject of many films (These Three (1936) by Lillian Hellman and its 1961 remake, The Children's Hour to name just one example), but Le Corbeau - now on DVD from the Criterion Collection - may be the most relentlessly pessimistic treatment of this theme. Conceived in controversy from the start, the movie was filmed in France during the German Occupation under the auspices of Continental, a distribution company run by Alfred Greven. At the time, many French directors, actors and technicians who were opposed to the Vichy regime and refused to work for the German-controlled Continental, fled to other countries for work. But Clouzot chose to remain and film Le Corbeau, which today is considered by many critics to be one of the few French film masterpieces to emerge from the World War II years. Its dark, misanthropic world view prefigures the "film noirs" Hollywood would produce in the years immediately following it. And there are several key suspense sequences here, ranking with the best of Alfred Hitchcock: the scene where the nurse, Marie Corbin (Helena Manson), flees to her home, hounded by an angry crowd; a sequence where an anonymous letter drifts down from the rafters of a church while the horrified congregation watches in silence. While there is no denying the skillfulness of Clouzot's direction in creating such an intense psychological drama, French critics and moviegoers alike were outraged by the picture. According to author Remi Fournier Lanzoni in his critical study, French Cinema, "a large number of viewers were reluctant to praise the film, some because they had trouble categorizing it, while others were morally offended by it.Le Corbeau was indeed besieged from both sides of the political scene. The anti-Nazi activists and members of the Resistance considered Le Corbeau pro-Nazi propaganda and fiercely fought (in the clandestine press) against the screening of the film. To them, it exemplified a collaboration with and submission to the German authorities by portraying a gloomy image and the malicious character of French people...The right wing and Vichy supporters also demanded the film be banned for its immoral values." As a result, Le Corbeau was banned from theatres in France and, after the war, Clouzot and the film's screenwriter, Louis Chavance, were accused by the newly formed Comite de liberation du cinema francais (CLCF) of deliberately making an anti-French movie, commissioned by Josef Goebbels. Despite the scandalous charges, the committee never passed a clear verdict on the film though Clouzot was given a lifetime suspension from the French film industry. The sentence was eventually reduced to two years and Clouzot was allowed to continue his career, making the much-admired crime drama, Quai des Orfevres/Jenny Lamour, in 1947. However, Le Corbeau remains one of his peak achievements. Renown film critic Peter Cowie wrote, "Suspense is not exploited for its own sake in Le Corbeau, but rather as a means of sociological analysis, and nearly a quarter of a century later still seems psychologically valid and disconcerting." In 1951, director Otto Preminger remade the film as The 13th Letter, starring Charles Boyer and Linda Darnell, but it failed to match the quality of the original. The Criterion Collection DVD of Le Corbeau is a top notch presentation of Clouzot's thriller despite the fact that they had to work with less than desirable print elements. Yes, there are some obvious flaws (frame damage, flickering, slight audio hiss) but this is easily the best presentation of this film you're going to see and it's been kicking around in poor 16mm dupes for years. As usual for Criterion, the extras are quite nice and include a video interview with director Bertrand Tavernier, excerpts from the Clouzot section of a 1975 documentary (The Story of French Cinema by Those Who Made It), and an essay by film scholar Alan Williams. For more information about Le Corbeau, visit Criterion Collection. To order Le Corbeau, go to TCM Shopping. by Jeff Stafford

Le Corbeau


In a small village in rural France, an anonymous writer sends a series of poison-pen letters to selected residents. Signed with the mysterious name of "Le Corbeau" (The Raven), the letters accuse the new physician in town, Dr. Remy Germain (Pierre Fresnay), of adultery and performing abortions. While the townspeople are scandalized by this information, it soon becomes apparent that Dr. Germain is not the only target of this vicious character assassination and that other respected members of the community will soon be victimized, their most shameful secrets exposed to all by "The Raven." Soon, the villagers begin turning on each other, creating an atmosphere of increasing paranoia and mistrust that culminates in murder, suicide and an angry mob scene.

Le Corbeau (1943), directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot (The Wages of Fear, 1953), was actually based on a true case that occurred in the city of Tulle, France in 1917. It was there that Angele Laval tormented the local villagers with a series of malicious letters following a failed romance, resulting in three suicides. Certainly, scandalous rumors and their destructive effect (whether true or not) have been the subject of many films (These Three (1936) by Lillian Hellman and its 1961 remake, The Children's Hour to name just one example), but Le Corbeau may be the most sinister and relentlessly pessimistic treatment yet of this theme.

Conceived in controversy from the start, the movie was filmed in France during the German Occupation under the auspices of Continental, a distribution company run by Alfred Greven. At the time, many French directors, actors and technicians who were opposed to the Vichy regime and refused to work for the German-controlled Continental, fled to other countries for work. But Clouzot chose to remain and film Le Corbeau, which today is considered by many critics to be one of the few French film masterpieces to emerge from the World War II years. Its dark, misanthropic world view prefigures the "film noirs" Hollywood would produce in the years immediately following it. And there are several key suspense sequences here, ranking with the best of Alfred Hitchcock: the scene where the nurse, Marie Corbin (Helena Manson), flees to her home, hounded by an angry crowd; a sequence where an anonymous letter drifts down from the rafters of a church while the horrified congregation watch in disbelief.

While there is no denying the skillfulness of Clouzot's direction in creating such an intense psychological drama, French critics and moviegoers alike were outraged by the picture. According to author Remi Fournier Lanzoni in his critical study, French Cinema, "a large number of viewers were reluctant to praise the film, some because they had trouble categorizing it, while others were morally offended by it.Le Corbeau was indeed besieged from both sides of the political scene. The anti-Nazi activists and members of the Resistance considered Le Corbeau pro-Nazi propaganda and fiercely fought (in the clandestine press) against the screening of the film. To them, it exemplified a collaboration with and submission to the German authorities by portraying a gloomy image and the malicious character of French people...The right wing and Vichy supporters also demanded the film be banned for its immoral values."

As a result, Le Corbeau was banned from theatres in France and, after the war, Clouzot and the film's screenwriter, Louis Chavance, were accused by the newly formed Comite de liberation du cinema francais (CLCF) of deliberately making an anti-French movie, commissioned by Josef Goebbels. Despite the scandalous charges, the committee never passed a clear verdict on the film though Clouzot was given a lifetime suspension from the French film industry. The sentence was eventually reduced to two years and Clouzot was allowed to continue his career, making the much-admired crime drama, Quai des Orfevres/Jenny Lamour, in 1947. However, Le Corbeau remains one of his peak achievements. Renown film critic Peter Cowie wrote, "Suspense is not exploited for its own sake in Le Corbeau, but rather as a means of sociological analysis, and nearly a quarter of a century later still seems psychologically valid and disconcerting." In 1951, director Otto Preminger remade the film as The 13th Letter, starring Charles Boyer and Linda Darnell, but it failed to match the quality of the original.

Producer: Rene Montis, Raoul Ploquin
Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot
Screenplay: Louis Chavance, Henri-Georges Clouzot
Cinematography: Nicholas Hayer
Film Editing: Marguerite Beauge
Art Direction: Andrej Andrejew
Music: Tony Aubin
Cast: Pierre Fresnay (Dr. Remy Germain), Ginette Leclerc (Denise Saillens), Micheline Francey (Laura Vorzet), Helena Manson (Marie Corbin), Jeanne Fusier-Gir (The Small-Wear Dealer), Sylvie (Francois' mother).
BW-91m.

by Jeff Stafford

Le Corbeau

In a small village in rural France, an anonymous writer sends a series of poison-pen letters to selected residents. Signed with the mysterious name of "Le Corbeau" (The Raven), the letters accuse the new physician in town, Dr. Remy Germain (Pierre Fresnay), of adultery and performing abortions. While the townspeople are scandalized by this information, it soon becomes apparent that Dr. Germain is not the only target of this vicious character assassination and that other respected members of the community will soon be victimized, their most shameful secrets exposed to all by "The Raven." Soon, the villagers begin turning on each other, creating an atmosphere of increasing paranoia and mistrust that culminates in murder, suicide and an angry mob scene. Le Corbeau (1943), directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot (The Wages of Fear, 1953), was actually based on a true case that occurred in the city of Tulle, France in 1917. It was there that Angele Laval tormented the local villagers with a series of malicious letters following a failed romance, resulting in three suicides. Certainly, scandalous rumors and their destructive effect (whether true or not) have been the subject of many films (These Three (1936) by Lillian Hellman and its 1961 remake, The Children's Hour to name just one example), but Le Corbeau may be the most sinister and relentlessly pessimistic treatment yet of this theme. Conceived in controversy from the start, the movie was filmed in France during the German Occupation under the auspices of Continental, a distribution company run by Alfred Greven. At the time, many French directors, actors and technicians who were opposed to the Vichy regime and refused to work for the German-controlled Continental, fled to other countries for work. But Clouzot chose to remain and film Le Corbeau, which today is considered by many critics to be one of the few French film masterpieces to emerge from the World War II years. Its dark, misanthropic world view prefigures the "film noirs" Hollywood would produce in the years immediately following it. And there are several key suspense sequences here, ranking with the best of Alfred Hitchcock: the scene where the nurse, Marie Corbin (Helena Manson), flees to her home, hounded by an angry crowd; a sequence where an anonymous letter drifts down from the rafters of a church while the horrified congregation watch in disbelief. While there is no denying the skillfulness of Clouzot's direction in creating such an intense psychological drama, French critics and moviegoers alike were outraged by the picture. According to author Remi Fournier Lanzoni in his critical study, French Cinema, "a large number of viewers were reluctant to praise the film, some because they had trouble categorizing it, while others were morally offended by it.Le Corbeau was indeed besieged from both sides of the political scene. The anti-Nazi activists and members of the Resistance considered Le Corbeau pro-Nazi propaganda and fiercely fought (in the clandestine press) against the screening of the film. To them, it exemplified a collaboration with and submission to the German authorities by portraying a gloomy image and the malicious character of French people...The right wing and Vichy supporters also demanded the film be banned for its immoral values." As a result, Le Corbeau was banned from theatres in France and, after the war, Clouzot and the film's screenwriter, Louis Chavance, were accused by the newly formed Comite de liberation du cinema francais (CLCF) of deliberately making an anti-French movie, commissioned by Josef Goebbels. Despite the scandalous charges, the committee never passed a clear verdict on the film though Clouzot was given a lifetime suspension from the French film industry. The sentence was eventually reduced to two years and Clouzot was allowed to continue his career, making the much-admired crime drama, Quai des Orfevres/Jenny Lamour, in 1947. However, Le Corbeau remains one of his peak achievements. Renown film critic Peter Cowie wrote, "Suspense is not exploited for its own sake in Le Corbeau, but rather as a means of sociological analysis, and nearly a quarter of a century later still seems psychologically valid and disconcerting." In 1951, director Otto Preminger remade the film as The 13th Letter, starring Charles Boyer and Linda Darnell, but it failed to match the quality of the original. Producer: Rene Montis, Raoul Ploquin Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot Screenplay: Louis Chavance, Henri-Georges Clouzot Cinematography: Nicholas Hayer Film Editing: Marguerite Beauge Art Direction: Andrej Andrejew Music: Tony Aubin Cast: Pierre Fresnay (Dr. Remy Germain), Ginette Leclerc (Denise Saillens), Micheline Francey (Laura Vorzet), Helena Manson (Marie Corbin), Jeanne Fusier-Gir (The Small-Wear Dealer), Sylvie (Francois' mother). BW-91m. by Jeff Stafford

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