La desordre et la nuit


1h 33m 1961

Brief Synopsis

A homicide detective tries to protect a pretty drug addict implicated in a murder.

Film Details

Also Known As
Le désordre et la nuit
Genre
Mystery
Release Date
Jan 1961
Premiere Information
New York opening: 12 Oct 1961
Production Company
Orex Films
Distribution Company
President Films
Country
France
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Le désordre et la nuit by Jacques Robert (Paris, 1955).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 33m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White

Synopsis

While investigating the murder of nightclub owner Albert Simoni, Inspector Vallois of the Paris police becomes emotionally involved with the victim's German mistress Lucky Friedel, a would-be singer who takes dope. Hoping to prove her innocence, Vallois tries to induce Lucky to tell him all she knows, but she refuses to cooperate. Eventually, however, she leads him to Thérèse Marken, a clever woman pharmacist who also knew Simoni. Vallois' slow but methodical handling of the case so irritates the police commissioner that he decides to take over and arrest Lucky for drug addiction as well as complicity in Simoni's murder. Before he can do so, however, Lucky disappears. Vallois finds her, heavily doped, in Thérèse's home. Confronted by Vallois, Thérèse admits to having killed Simoni when he tired of her affections. Lucky witnessed the crime and used her knowledge of it to blackmail Thérèse into supplying her with morphine. After telling headquarters where they can find the killer, Vallois takes Lucky to a sanitarium, promising to return for her once she has been cured.

Film Details

Also Known As
Le désordre et la nuit
Genre
Mystery
Release Date
Jan 1961
Premiere Information
New York opening: 12 Oct 1961
Production Company
Orex Films
Distribution Company
President Films
Country
France
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Le désordre et la nuit by Jacques Robert (Paris, 1955).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 33m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White

Articles

Le Desordre et La Nuit aka The Night affair (1958) - Le Desordre et La Nuit (The Night Affair)


Jean Gabin (1904-1976) was 20th century France's most iconic film actor, as much a personification of self-contained ruggedness in his Gallic way as Spencer Tracy and Gary Cooper. With his thin lips, boxer's broken nose, and knowing gaze dominating a doughy, impassive face, he was economical in speech and gesture, reactive, as all great movie actors are. His blocky build made him seem stolid. More than that, he seemed rooted, a man directed by his own inner compass. He seemed, in short, a man who knew what he was and didn't need to impress anybody. In this way, he always seemed relaxed, even when you felt he was about to explode in violence. Even if he hadn't been a real-life war hero, fighting in North Africa with the Free French, it was easy to see why he was so beloved. Never placating, never sentimental, he was a reassuring screen presence, an actor you were always glad to see show up in a film.

A son of cabaret entertainers, born 22 miles north of Paris, he rose through the music halls to film. In 1937, Julien Duvivier's Pepe le Moko made Gabin a star. It also established the persona that made him an icon by the end of the decade - an underclass loner unable to beat a stacked societal deck. The persona deepened in Marcel Carne's moody, poetic Quai des Brumes (Port of Shadows, 1938) and Le jour se leve (Daybreak, 1939). He reached new levels of humanity for Jean Renoir in Les Bas-Fonds (The Lower Depths, 1936), La bête humaine (The Human Beast, 1938) and especially Grande Illusion (1937), in which he was for once allowed to escape his usual proletarian doom and achieve nobility as a working-class escapee from German captivity in World War I.

Although he worked industriously until the last year of his life, Gabin peaked artistically in the '30s. As he aged, he challenged himself less, but his audience appeal kept him popular. A couple of films in which he starred as the quintessential French cop, Georges Simenon's Inspector Maigret, were among his hits. They are the key to Gabin's postwar persona changeover from rebellious, ill-fated working-class protagonist to icon of bourgeois stability, reminding society that the system still works. More than the shedding of his character's mustache is involved, though, in another police procedural of the period, Gilles Grangier's La desordre et la nuit (The Night Affair, 1958). Again, Gabin appears as a slow-moving but authoritative rogue supercop, the legendary Inspector Vallois, working, like Maigret, out of the Quai des Orfevres. He cracks the cases the other cops can't and is resented by mediocre bosses for his unfailing competence.

There's no point in pretending that this policier would wind up on Gabin's greatest hits reel. It wouldn't. Yet despite a few too many plot convolutions, it puts a lot on the table to enjoy, firmly established Grangier's directing credentials, and makes it easy to understand why Gabin made five more films with him. Although the legendary Vallois is talked about, Gabin's tough trench-coated, fedora-topped sleuth doesn't come on until 14 minutes into the 90-minute film. That's a plus because in addition to allowing anticipation to build, it establishes lots of flavorful atmosphere. It's giddy with love for American pop culture, noir division, and for America's other great contributions to postwar French culture - big cars and le jazz hot.

We hear the film before we see it, as a jazz drummer bangs out some hot up-tempo riffs in the claustrophobic Cabaret l'Oeuf with its postage-stamp dance floor, even smaller bar, bad '50s abstract art on the walls, and drug deals on the side. The place is festooned with thugs who seem cheerfully appropriated from American gangster films, with the club's kingpin doing a lot of the dealing. All that, and Nadja Tiller's free spirit, adding decorative appeal. She drives off with the club honcho. He stops the car in the Bois de Boulogne, tells her to wait in the car. Enter three off-screen gunshots, exit the club boss, enter the cops.

More than most American films would dare to at the time, La desordre et la nuit takes on the jazz-flavored drug scene. Gabin loses little time showing that his Vallois has more edge than Maigret ever did, by taking Tiller's party girl to a cheap hotel, but not before they walk down a few rain-slicked night streets and the film lets us know how in love with noir it is by having her exclaim: "It's like walking on sequins." Minutes later, they've checked into the hotel, where he strips down to his double-breasted suit with tie and collar and she strips down to her slip. Approaching him, she slaps him. He slaps her back. Bingo! Cut to them between the post-coital sheets, him quizzing her, to which she replies: "You're a good lover, but a dirty cop." Like he cares. Tired, he's happy to make his way back to his house in the suburbs at dawn and let the cat in (a possible source of inspiration for his sometime colleague Andre Bourvil, as the implacable cat-loving bachelor cop stalking Alan Delon in Jean-Pierre Melville's 1970 Le Cercle Rouge).

The Austrian-born Tiller, who enjoyed a long career, especially in German-speaking films, does all one could hope for as the schizoid, or maybe bipolar, rich girl, who shuttles between low-lifing it at the club, where she longs to be regarded as a cabaret singer in a league with the blacks, and her suite at the tres luxe Hotel George V. When we see an older man there and learn it's her despairing industrialist father from Munich, it explains a bit more about her rebelliousness (a decade later and she might have gone the Red Brigade route!). Today, the film's portrait of a drug-addicted heroine (no pun intended!) who passes out at regular intervals seems caricatured. But for its time, it's wild enough.

The bonuses continue with the appearance of Danielle Darrieux as a pharmacist who is more than the rich girl's friend she claims to be and whom we do not see until halfway through La desordre et la nuit. She makes up for her late entrance with a performance, in a far from well-defined role, of commandingly cool poise. Francois Chaumette adds to the zestful churn of this potboiler as Vallois's boss, who shows up with a big box of cigars and an even bigger smile at the hospital where an injured Vallois has been admitted, happy to be able to take Vallois off the case. Later, of course, he must reverse himself upon being informed that the murdered man has a politically connected brother and is putting pressure on for an expeditious solution. Hazel Scott's presence as the club's resident singer of jazzy torch songs is especially welcome, too. She's the real thing, and it's gratifying to see her at work in France after being hounded by the House Un-American Activities Committee and divorced from then-powerful Representative Adam Clayton Powell. Lots to like, then, including generous helpings of style and ambience, in this film that celebrates Gabin yet again doing it his way, right down to an amusing ending you won't see coming.

Producer: Lucien Viard
Director: Gilles Grangier
Screenplay: Jacques Robert (novel and screenplay); Michel Audiard, Gilles Grangier (writers)
Cinematography: Louis Page
Music: Henri Contet, Jean Yatove
Film Editing: Jacqueline Sadoul
Cast: Jean Gabin (Inspecteur Georges Vallois), Danielle Darrieux (Thérèse Marken), Nadja Tiller (Lucky Fridel), Paul Frankeur (Inspecteur Chaville), Hazel Scott (Valentine Horse), Robert Manuel (Blasco), Robert Berri (Marquis), François Chaumette (Le commissaire principal Janin/Commissioner Janin), Louis Ducreux (Henri Marken).
BW-93m.

by Jay Carr
Le Desordre Et La Nuit Aka The Night Affair (1958) - Le Desordre Et La Nuit (The Night Affair)

Le Desordre et La Nuit aka The Night affair (1958) - Le Desordre et La Nuit (The Night Affair)

Jean Gabin (1904-1976) was 20th century France's most iconic film actor, as much a personification of self-contained ruggedness in his Gallic way as Spencer Tracy and Gary Cooper. With his thin lips, boxer's broken nose, and knowing gaze dominating a doughy, impassive face, he was economical in speech and gesture, reactive, as all great movie actors are. His blocky build made him seem stolid. More than that, he seemed rooted, a man directed by his own inner compass. He seemed, in short, a man who knew what he was and didn't need to impress anybody. In this way, he always seemed relaxed, even when you felt he was about to explode in violence. Even if he hadn't been a real-life war hero, fighting in North Africa with the Free French, it was easy to see why he was so beloved. Never placating, never sentimental, he was a reassuring screen presence, an actor you were always glad to see show up in a film. A son of cabaret entertainers, born 22 miles north of Paris, he rose through the music halls to film. In 1937, Julien Duvivier's Pepe le Moko made Gabin a star. It also established the persona that made him an icon by the end of the decade - an underclass loner unable to beat a stacked societal deck. The persona deepened in Marcel Carne's moody, poetic Quai des Brumes (Port of Shadows, 1938) and Le jour se leve (Daybreak, 1939). He reached new levels of humanity for Jean Renoir in Les Bas-Fonds (The Lower Depths, 1936), La bête humaine (The Human Beast, 1938) and especially Grande Illusion (1937), in which he was for once allowed to escape his usual proletarian doom and achieve nobility as a working-class escapee from German captivity in World War I. Although he worked industriously until the last year of his life, Gabin peaked artistically in the '30s. As he aged, he challenged himself less, but his audience appeal kept him popular. A couple of films in which he starred as the quintessential French cop, Georges Simenon's Inspector Maigret, were among his hits. They are the key to Gabin's postwar persona changeover from rebellious, ill-fated working-class protagonist to icon of bourgeois stability, reminding society that the system still works. More than the shedding of his character's mustache is involved, though, in another police procedural of the period, Gilles Grangier's La desordre et la nuit (The Night Affair, 1958). Again, Gabin appears as a slow-moving but authoritative rogue supercop, the legendary Inspector Vallois, working, like Maigret, out of the Quai des Orfevres. He cracks the cases the other cops can't and is resented by mediocre bosses for his unfailing competence. There's no point in pretending that this policier would wind up on Gabin's greatest hits reel. It wouldn't. Yet despite a few too many plot convolutions, it puts a lot on the table to enjoy, firmly established Grangier's directing credentials, and makes it easy to understand why Gabin made five more films with him. Although the legendary Vallois is talked about, Gabin's tough trench-coated, fedora-topped sleuth doesn't come on until 14 minutes into the 90-minute film. That's a plus because in addition to allowing anticipation to build, it establishes lots of flavorful atmosphere. It's giddy with love for American pop culture, noir division, and for America's other great contributions to postwar French culture - big cars and le jazz hot. We hear the film before we see it, as a jazz drummer bangs out some hot up-tempo riffs in the claustrophobic Cabaret l'Oeuf with its postage-stamp dance floor, even smaller bar, bad '50s abstract art on the walls, and drug deals on the side. The place is festooned with thugs who seem cheerfully appropriated from American gangster films, with the club's kingpin doing a lot of the dealing. All that, and Nadja Tiller's free spirit, adding decorative appeal. She drives off with the club honcho. He stops the car in the Bois de Boulogne, tells her to wait in the car. Enter three off-screen gunshots, exit the club boss, enter the cops. More than most American films would dare to at the time, La desordre et la nuit takes on the jazz-flavored drug scene. Gabin loses little time showing that his Vallois has more edge than Maigret ever did, by taking Tiller's party girl to a cheap hotel, but not before they walk down a few rain-slicked night streets and the film lets us know how in love with noir it is by having her exclaim: "It's like walking on sequins." Minutes later, they've checked into the hotel, where he strips down to his double-breasted suit with tie and collar and she strips down to her slip. Approaching him, she slaps him. He slaps her back. Bingo! Cut to them between the post-coital sheets, him quizzing her, to which she replies: "You're a good lover, but a dirty cop." Like he cares. Tired, he's happy to make his way back to his house in the suburbs at dawn and let the cat in (a possible source of inspiration for his sometime colleague Andre Bourvil, as the implacable cat-loving bachelor cop stalking Alan Delon in Jean-Pierre Melville's 1970 Le Cercle Rouge). The Austrian-born Tiller, who enjoyed a long career, especially in German-speaking films, does all one could hope for as the schizoid, or maybe bipolar, rich girl, who shuttles between low-lifing it at the club, where she longs to be regarded as a cabaret singer in a league with the blacks, and her suite at the tres luxe Hotel George V. When we see an older man there and learn it's her despairing industrialist father from Munich, it explains a bit more about her rebelliousness (a decade later and she might have gone the Red Brigade route!). Today, the film's portrait of a drug-addicted heroine (no pun intended!) who passes out at regular intervals seems caricatured. But for its time, it's wild enough. The bonuses continue with the appearance of Danielle Darrieux as a pharmacist who is more than the rich girl's friend she claims to be and whom we do not see until halfway through La desordre et la nuit. She makes up for her late entrance with a performance, in a far from well-defined role, of commandingly cool poise. Francois Chaumette adds to the zestful churn of this potboiler as Vallois's boss, who shows up with a big box of cigars and an even bigger smile at the hospital where an injured Vallois has been admitted, happy to be able to take Vallois off the case. Later, of course, he must reverse himself upon being informed that the murdered man has a politically connected brother and is putting pressure on for an expeditious solution. Hazel Scott's presence as the club's resident singer of jazzy torch songs is especially welcome, too. She's the real thing, and it's gratifying to see her at work in France after being hounded by the House Un-American Activities Committee and divorced from then-powerful Representative Adam Clayton Powell. Lots to like, then, including generous helpings of style and ambience, in this film that celebrates Gabin yet again doing it his way, right down to an amusing ending you won't see coming. Producer: Lucien Viard Director: Gilles Grangier Screenplay: Jacques Robert (novel and screenplay); Michel Audiard, Gilles Grangier (writers) Cinematography: Louis Page Music: Henri Contet, Jean Yatove Film Editing: Jacqueline Sadoul Cast: Jean Gabin (Inspecteur Georges Vallois), Danielle Darrieux (Thérèse Marken), Nadja Tiller (Lucky Fridel), Paul Frankeur (Inspecteur Chaville), Hazel Scott (Valentine Horse), Robert Manuel (Blasco), Robert Berri (Marquis), François Chaumette (Le commissaire principal Janin/Commissioner Janin), Louis Ducreux (Henri Marken). BW-93m. by Jay Carr

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Location scenes filmed in Paris. Paris opening in May 1958 as Le désordre et la nuit.