Claude Chabrol Collection: Volume 2 Review

They say that you like people for their strengths but that you love them for their weaknesses. In respect of Claude Chabrol's 49 years of film making, he has made more than his fair share of misconceived classics, arty follies and brilliant mistakes, and it is this ability to climb so high with some films and fall so low with others that endears him to me. High concept misfires like Ophelia (a modern adaptation of Hamlet), Les Godeleaureux (in Chabrol's own words a "useless film about uselessness") and his lumpy Quiet Days of Clichy adaptation, all of these under-achievers appeal to me in a way that a contemporary like Truffaut's more consistent output does not. It is Chabrol's ability to abandon a winning formula or misjudge an innovation that makes him such an interesting film maker. For a director primarily renowned for his thrillers, he has made four spy films, a fantasy film, a futuristic Lang homage, an earnest almost neo-realist film about Bigoudian culture and literary adaptations of classics like Flaubert's Madame Bovary and Beauvoir's The Blood of Others.

His best film-making has undoubtedly come about from consistent partnerships with producers like Andre Genoves and Marin Karmitz, and he has sought an unbelievable level of consistency in his choice of cast and crew. But Chabrol often chooses to subvert all this and will throw a completely unlikely film into the ether much like a spanner into the works. In 1973, after his marvellous Helene cycle of bourgeois thrillers, he decided to make Dr Popaul Likes Them Ugly - a misogynist sex comedy with Jean-Paul Belmondo as a duplicitous doctor with wandering eyes and patriarchal intent. He then returned to the Helene cycle with the brilliant Wedding in Blood, only to follow it with the almost Bergmannesque open heart surgery that is Partie de Plaisir. Chabrol then drifted between projects, some excellent like Violette Noziere or The Hatter's Ghost and some shockingly anodyne like his HBO produced The Blood of Others. Even when Chabrol found the perfect production partner in Marin Karmitz he still fought his success by going it alone for his truly wonderful The Cry of The Owl. If in recent years Chabrol's output has become less varied and more consistent, he has still chosen to switch producers and continue to satirise the conventions of the thriller like no other living director. Last year's Comedy of Power was further evidence that Chabrol refuses to lay down and make whodunnits or films with clear heroes and certain villains. It is this willfulness that I continue to admire and which is marked in the six films in the collection on review.

Road To Corinth

After the relative commercial failure of his early films, Claude Chabrol outraged fellow acolytes of the New Wave by embracing varied and commercial projects and, to their minds, threw his auteuristic credentials out the window by becoming a director for hire. Critical opinion forgot Chabrol's love of Lang and Hitchcock, who followed a similar route in their careers, and failed to see why someone of his ilk should concern himself with genre films like the Tiger movies and Marie Chantal Contre Docteur Kha - flimsy pieces full of homage and satire. It is hard to celebrate a lot in the Tiger films other than moments of whimsy and cinematic playfulness, but Docteur Kha was a film with a Mabuse like villain and a The Lady Vanishes type plot. It also possesses the finest of Chabrol's comic cameos as a spying bartender poisoned by his own cocktail. One thing that the experience of the spy films gave Chabrol was the opportunity to keep working with the crew he had gathered together and to experiment, much as Hitchcock did with films like Number Seventeen, on his own abilities and strengths. His usual crew of Jean Rabier, Jacques Gaillard, Guy Chichignoud and Pierre Jansen continued to work with him as did his favourite bit part actors like Henri Attal, Dominique Zardi and Jean-Marie Arnoux. The second Tiger film, Our Man Tiger, was also responsible for his introduction to an essential actor in his career, the wonderful Michel Bouquet. After his fey white supremacist in Our Man Tiger, Bouquet was again cast as the idiotic and sleazy spy chief Sharps in Road to Corinth.

Shot on location in Greece and working with his crew regulars, The Road to Corinth is a witty and affectionate spy movie. Shanny, played by the gorgeous Jean Seberg is the wife of a spy who is fitted up for his murder by the machinations of local spy boss Sharps. When she is released from prison she has a hot lead to hunt down her husband's murderer but Sharps puts Dex, a friend of hers and fellow spy, on her tail to ensure she returns home to the USA. Shanny learns that her husband had discovered that the local stone masons are in fact a secret espionage network and she is soon up to her neck in trouble. Dodging the men who killed her husband, the besotted Dex, and the Machiavellian Sharps will take all her cunning.

It is generally the case that Chabrol's best work is done at home in his native France. His feel for the nuances of the society and the contrast between town and country, the urbane and the rural, is unmatched. The Road to Corinth is a special exception to this rule largely as it seems so light and breezy as a film, and has hidden depths in its simplistic storyline. It begins with a superb set piece where a magician is stopped by customs and interrogated because of a black box of electronics found in his car. The search of the car is delicious with the entire cargo a slew of in-jokes about magic with rabbits in top hats and doves hidden under every crevice. Even when the magician is interrogated, he escapes Houdini like from his bonds and discovers unlikely objects out of the ether courtesy of his prestidigination. This self mocking tone extends to a Chabrol cameo as a US General demanding action and to the wonderful portrayal of Sharps by Bouquet as part idiot part Machiavelli. Rather than lose this humour it remains the constant tone of the film as Seberg acts as the woman in peril and the spies around her act as buffoons bewitched by their nonsense and her charms. A particularly funny moment is the assignation in the cemetery where her intended rendez-vous finds himself chased by spies dressed as Greek Orthodox priests, once they catch, and kill him they wash their blood stained hands in the church font - a typically Chabrolian satire on religion.

The film is one of many Chabrol stories of love triangles with Dex in love with his best friend's wife, and prevented by loyalty from being with her. After his friend's death he is then prevented by the duty of his job from making a play for Shanny. Maurice Ronet stars alongside Seberg, and they work well together with Ronet having good range and skill with intimacy to give his lovelorn spy depth, and Seberg is a delight as a puckish redoubtable heroine. Daniel Boulanger's script is well realised by an on form Chabrol who finally seems at home in the genre after four attempts, and the work of Rabier's cinematography and Jansen's music is as good as ever. Road to Corinth marked the beginning of Chabrol's long and successful collaboration with Genoves as his producer, and the first film they made is a slight but delicious example of the spy genre.

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The Breech aka Rupture

Chabrol has said that the reason for his divorce from the great Stephane Audran was that he started to be more interested in her as an actress than as a woman, although the long walks he took with his soon to be third wife and script girl, Aurore Paquiss, may suggest a different reason. This interest in Audran's acting has meant that she has played in a number of his films even after their divorce and been a formidable presence in films like Quiet Days in Clichy and Cop au Vin. From her first proper leading role in 1962's brilliant L'Oeil du Malin through to 1992's Betty, Audran's presence has never been far away from Chabrol's cinema. Perhaps it was her vampiric Frederique in 1968 Les Biches that she gave her first outstanding if cold performance, but it was in The Breech that Chabrol's camera was most obsessed with her.

The Breech begins with a shocking scene where a half naked man, presumably the father of the household, picks up and throws his young son against a wall, his wife strikes him with a skillet to unconsciousness and runs to a neighbour. This begins the trials of Audran's former stripper, Helene, as her husband's wealthy family use fair means and foul to wrench her son from her and finally break her union with Charles. She seeks refuge in a guest house close to her son's hospital only to find herself as a subject of gossip by the three older women who reside there. When Charles' father, the unremittingly vile Bouquet, decides to interfere further he hires the loathsome Paul (Jean Pierre Cassel) with a view to spying on her. Paul tries everything to find dirt on Helene, he warns her friends off her, steals her money and even starts gossip against her only to resort to an elaborate and dastardly ploy to ruin her.

The Breech is not a thriller but a melodrama. A tale of a rare Chabrolian heroine whose virtue is beyond corruption despite the powerful forces around her, and an analysis of the way influence and power finds people to do its bidding. It is one of those films that acutely describes the vulnerabilities of those in it and their capacity to be influenced or corrupted by Bouquet's Henri, a rich patriarch. It paints an elegant picture of the creeping complicity that threatens to envelop Helene and separate this very best of mothers from her child. For once the sympathy of the viewer is entirely with this valiant woman and indeed the corruptible world around her eventually recognises her merit and supports her in a way that brings the forces against her crashing down. Chabrol's heroine does not bask in her glory and the conclusion of the tale is in fact preceded by her one moment of relief in the battle she faces, but not relief that she has won, it is relief brought through a hallucination caused by an LSD spiked drink.

Because of its unusual story and mode, The Breech is something of a curiosity and an innovation in Chabrol's work. The film seems more from the golden age of Hollywood heroines like Bette Davis and Joan Crawford than inspired by the usual Chabrol influences of Lang's guilt and formalism or Hitchcock's interest in layered structures of meaning. It is a film where the rich are bad and the oppressed are good and subtlety of blame is forsaken for a joy of character and an anatomy of corruption. It is Audran's finest role in a Chabrol film and evidence that the master of thrillers and acute implication can do melodrama just as well.

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Innocents with Dirty Hands

With Andre Genoves' production and the relative success of their films together, Chabrol found himself with the opportunity to work with actors who had worked with the giants he admired or were giants themselves. 1971's Ten Days Wonder afforded him the chance to work with Psycho's Anthony Perkins for the second time, and, more importantly, Orson Welles, and with Innocents with Dirty Hands he found himself working with method mumbler Rod Steiger as well. For a director whose career up to this point had been celebrated for its ability to draw subtle performances out of his central cast, if allowing the supporting players a little more license, Steiger seems a bit out of place in this environment as Louis the seemingly impotent millionaire. Chabrol would encourage actors to be more characterful in later roles such as Michel Serrault in The Hatter's Ghost and Jean Poiret in the Lavardin films, but these larger than life actors were allowing for the comedic rather than the intensity Steiger usually wallows in.

Julie is the young trophy wife of millionaire Louis who one day meets Jeff, a young writer on holiday in Saint Tropez. With her husband's morbidity, drunkenness and apparent impotence, Julie has plenty of reason to look for affection elsewhere and soon an affair is in full bloom. Feeling trapped, Julie and Jeff decide to murder Louis and fake his disappearance/suicide. Each of the lovers believes they have fulfilled their part of their bargain but Louis' body is not found and evidence comes to light that suggests Julie knows more than she is telling about her husband's disappearance. Someone else seems to know what the lovers have been up to. With the police closing in and no money to survive on, the tables have been turned and Julie faces the fact that she would rather her husband wasn't dead. But is he, where is Jeff and who is in charge - the lovers or the voyeur?

Ever since L'Oeil du Malin, the power of the voyeur and the act of watching has been fertile ground for Chabrol's thrillers and that is clearly the case here when the voyeur becomes the powerful one through spying on the adulterers. It is a theme Chabrol has covered many times and possibly best in 1987's The Cry Of The Owl where voyeurism leads to unwanted love, public disapproval and a kind of self-incrimination. Chabrol plays with the power exchanges in this film as the central ménage a trois presents each of its participants with humiliation or victory and twist leads to twist, until love seems to be restored through passion and power until further betrayals follow.

There are elements of Innocents with Dirty Hands which are worth celebrating but coming at the end of Chabrol's run of great films with Genoves, it is something of a disappointment when considered as anything other than a corny potboiler. There are tremendous supporting performances and quirky characters in the persons of the two detectives who ingeniously work out the labyrinthine plots over excellent meal after excellent meal. There is a brilliantly funny cameo by Jean Rochefort as Albert Legal, a somewhat sleazy attorney, and efforts to elaborate on the thriller elements by clever touches like Louis' Sun God medallion and the themes of voyeurism and power. Still, this is window dressing and the goods on sale are really rather minor with Steiger miscast and out of his depth and an overly elaborate denouement which stretches credulity in seeking an interesting pay-off. This is the weakest of the films included here, but it can be enjoyed as a superficial one-off thriller that lacks the richness of the films that Chabrol made directly before it.

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Partie de Plaisir

From Chabrol's first film, he has always been interested in duality of character. In Le Beau Serge that was represented by the Catholic sacrificing Jean Claude Brialy and the redeemed cynic Serge with a strongly moral approach to saving the sinner, but in his next film, the first to be co-written by Paul Gegauff, this duality became more subtle in the story of an earnest country cousin and his more urbane and egotistic urban counterpart. Guy Austin in his book on Chabrol sees this duality as an ongoing reflection of the poles of personality reflected by Chabrol, quiet, intellectual and reserved, and his co writer Gegauff, outgoing, rebellious and instinctive. In this typology of Gegauff we can see roles like Laszlo Kovacs in A Double Tour, the voracious cuckoo in the family nest, and even some of Chabrol's human monsters like Popaul in Le Boucher or Paul in Que La Bete Meure. Whatever the truth of this comparison, it is definitely the case that Paul Gegauff was the primary collaborator in Chabrol's films for the first twenty years of his directing cinema and his influence was not merely technical but thematic.

It is possible to gauge the difference between the projects that Gegauff collaborated on and the ones he didn't in Chabrol's career. La Femme Infidele and La Boucher for instance are more clinical in their writing and less elaborate than the films which surround them in his filmography. Additionally, within those films that Gegauff did influence it is possible to guess quite who was dominant between the two writers in the nature of these films, if Dr Popaul Likes Them Ugly seems like Gegauff for its rumbunctiousness and misanthropy then Partie de Plaisir seems to be autobiography of Gegauff as seen through Chabrol's eyes. I mention this because Partie de Plaisir was written by Paul Gegauff, stars Paul Geaguff and his ex-wife and daughter as his partner and daughter, and even features music played by Gegauff. Partie de Plaisir is grim, unremitting cinema and given Gegauff's untimely end in 1982 at the hands of his second wife, the story has a morbid fascination looking back now.

Telling the tale of a writer, Phillippe, who encourages his partner, Esther, to broaden her experience and dabble sexually, the film is encapsulated in an early image when a ladybird finds itself entwined in a spiders web and swallowed by the overpowering beast. Here Phillippe is the spider and Esther the ladybird. Esther's forays into sexual experimentation initially serve the purpose of excusing Phillippe's own infidelity but when they develop into affairs he becomes jealous and threatening. He demands that she gives up her lover as the man, in Phillippe's eyes, is beneath her. He starts to spy on her and stalks her when she goes to her lover dragging her out of the lover's bed - his controlling becomes too much for her and she leaves him. He moves on to another woman who becomes his wife but he can't let go of Esther and uses their daughter to manipulate her. He finally becomes obsessed with the idea of getting her back and believes that a funeral of her aunt is the invitation he was waiting for. Gegauff is remarkably good in this film as Phillippe and he spares himself no vanity as his foibles, arrogance and misogyny are exposed for all to see. The final image of the film sums up the terrible impact he will have on his daughter after she visits him in jail. His character is simply poison to women.

Chabrol allows himself little in the way of frippery or wit in this grinding revelatory tale and the dark heart of Gegauff's lead and his actions almost seems like an exorcism for the director who rarely worked with Gegauff after this film. The cruelty of Phillippe makes this film the darkest of Chabrol's explorations of human beasts, and its nihilistic end lays bare how male ego consumes and destroys the feminine. The film is admittedly unpolished and rough with Danielle Gegauff and her daughter not being the greatest actors in the world but this gives the film an almost neo-realist edge, like Le Beau Serge and The Horse of Pride, which makes the story even more raw. Similarly the simple piano music played by Gegauff and the very young Matthieu Chabrol adds to the sense of a relatively artless film with a direct impact. Partie de Plaisir is another example of Chabrol being unpredictable and marks the moment when his fascination with the different character of Gegauff was finally satisfied. It is an uncomfortable film and prophetic given the sad end to Gegauff's life, but unfailingly and excruciatingly honest.

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Cop Au Vin

Chabrol's working relationship with Marin Karmitz has been a key reason in his creative renaissance in the last twenty years. The stability to the projects that Chabrol has undertaken has reflected itself in a consistent level of quality and some deeper development of some of Chabrol's ongoing concerns such as the bourgeois family and the legacy of guilt. With 1985's Cop Au Vin, Chabrol was advised by Karmitz to make the film with an eye to a second market of television rather than just tilting at the cinema audience. Adapting Dominique Roulet's novel, Chabrol created one of his most enduring characters in Inspector Lavardin, a rude, unorthodox policeman who pays no heed to status and acts much as a social equalizer in finding the true culprit for the crimes he investigates. Lavardin was so successful that Chabrol revisited the character on three more occasions and a TV series ensued.

In a sleepy small town, the local lawyer, doctor, and butcher have formed a development company, FILAMO, with a view to making a killing on proposed secret development plans, but the only thing that stands in their way is the local postman, Louis, and his mother who refuse to sell their property to them. Using fair and foul means the three pillars of the community try to force them out but their campaign of harassment looks set to fail when the butcher's wife refuses to back their plans with her money. She soon conveniently disappears and Louis's guerilla war against his enemies leads to the unplanned death of the butcher. Enter Lavardin who soon understands what has been going on and will strong-arm and intimidate the powerful to get to the truth when a second body turns up. But is he interested in catching Louis or thwarting FILAMO's plans?

It is forty minutes into Cop Au Vin when Jean Poiret finally appears as the Inspector. We have had the whole town's bourgeoisie introduced and we have been lost in their attempts to fight for their dodgy schemes and illicit affairs, and we have met the put upon Louis and his unhinged mother. The moment Lavardin appears is like an avenging angel has been loosed upon these people, and as Chabrol's tool he ensures that guilt is discovered and the innocent are eventually protected. Chabrol's cinema has always made a virtue of trying not to judge people, or to define who is heroic and who is to blame, but this is exactly Lavardin's role and if his unconventional efforts are indeed successful they are also authoritarian and brutal. Like the vengeful Huppert in La Ceremonie, we are almost invited to enjoy the bringing of justice as it coincides with our sympathies but Lavardin is not entirely to be liked as well.

Chabrol's wicked sense of humour extends to a couple of instances worthy of comment. He casts Stephane Audran, his former wife, as an unhinged woman who has malingered after her husband left her for pastures new and this jokey choice leads to one of Audran's best tragicomic performances as well as deliberate real-life irony. There is also a delicious moment where the butcher's shop displays a sign saying "Closed: due to murder". Cop Au Vin marked a stronger direction for Chabrol as his films moved out to the provinces to look at the rural bourgeoisie and the way power defeats threats to its equilibrium. It also represents another evolution in Chabrol's collaborators as the children of Bernadette Lafont and Jean Rabier take on roles in the cast and production, sadly in the case of Lafont this was one of the few roles she did before her untimely death at the age of twenty-five. Cop au Vin is the archetypal late Chabrol film, part genre mystery, part bourgeois satire and part exposé of humanity.

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Flower of Evil

As Chabrol's 50th feature film, the Flower of Evil seems perfect. It is riddled with the guilt of the past, both personal and political, it centres itself on an ostensibly comfortable family and discovers the truth beneath the surface, and it is very much a family production with stepdaughter Cecilia, wife Aurore, and sons Matthieu and Thomas all involved. It fits nicely with Chabrol's later habit of writing with women and interestingly has a central character who is elderly rather than the younger and middle aged who normally populate his films. The film itself is even privy to Aunt Line's memories and ghosts of the past in a rare example of identification with a character's inner monologue and they mirror the very things that Chabrol has spent his life making films about - beasts, collaboration and complicity, the family as a trap, and the ways the powerful find to protect themselves and their status.

Francois has been in Chicago studying for the last three years and his return is eagerly awaited by his father, great aunt, stepmother Anne and cousin, Michele. Especially his cousin. No sooner is he sat down to a grand dinner cooked in his honour by Aunt Line than his father reminds him why he went away with his boorish behaviour and efforts to discourage his wife's political career. Anne is running for mayoral office, and her deputy brings her a sleazy leaflet which aims to smear her publicly by talking about the rich family's past of collaboration, murder and incest. She refuses to be discouraged and soon Francois decides to escape his father by disappearing with his comely cousin to Aunt Line's holiday house. The two cousins rediscover their love and share their mutual suspicions as to the name of the author of the leaflet. When they return back on the eve of the election, the sins of the past become the sins of the present and history must repeat itself.

Like his first thriller A Double Tour, Flower of Evil is concerned with family secrets that sit underneath the tableaux of the idyllic family. The scurrilous leaflet sent to the voters is snide and unpleasant and it is also true. Its description of a family that inter-marries in the past and covers up murder to protect its position is exactly the case in the present. In fact the family is perhaps worse than in the leaflet as the author is assumed to be the father, Gerard, and for this assumption and drunken leering he is fatally dealt with as a threat to the family's survival. Gerard is another in Chabrol's collections of beasts - a sleazy, self involved controlling pharmacist who is loathed by those around him for his infidelity and bad manners. His presumed guilt is what causes his demise, but in a sense he is killed for a lack of etiquette rather than a serious crime.

Chabrol has fun with the legacy of the past and returns to the topic of wartime collaboration as his example here. The use of the occupation of France and the Vichy regime is a regular feature of the director's films, even if only through location. Vichy is of course, a signifier of complicity and collaboration and here this is superbly utilised in the context of the family unit. The family begins the film as an uncomfortable lie hidden by the artifice of wealth and good manners, once the lie is exposed and the unhappiness is explicit the family can only come back together by rebuilding the artifice through more lies and murder. Simply put, the family becomes closer through a shared complicity in protecting itself. This legacy of guilt and lies is suggested throughout - a composition of Michele and her great Aunt Line behind the bars of a birdcage, and the word "conceal" being played in scrabble.

Thematically, Flower of Evil is one of Chabrol's most well realised films and a perfect example of his later subject matters. Enjoy it as a satire on the uber-bourgeois family or as the analysis of lies and political power it really is, but you have to enjoy it.

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The Discs

These six films have been previously available on Region 1 DVD in English friendly releases from Pathfinder, Lion's Gate and HVE. The Pathfinder releases of Road to Corinth (aka Who's got the Black Box), The Breech (aka Rupture), Innocents with Dirty Hands and Pleasure Party all were standards conversions and displayed combing, motion shake and softness. Those four films here are presented as native PAL transfers. Of the six films included here some are anamorphic, Cop au Vin, Partie de Plaisir and Flower of Evil, but the majority are not and are presented letter-boxed. Road to Corinth and The Breech are at the ratio of 1.78:1 which seems heavily cropped in the case of the former, but the rest of the films are in 1.66:1 which is the probable original aspect ratio for all the films. Below you will see comparisons between the R1 and the new Arrow discs, with the R1 releases the top of the two screenshots.

Road to Corinth (R1 aka Who's got the Black Box)
Pathfinder discRoad to Corinth (R2 Arrow)

The Breech (R1 aka Rupture)

Pathfinder disc
The Breech (R2 Arrow)

Partie de Plaisir(R1, aka Pleasure Party)

Partie de Plaisir (R2, Arrow)

Innocents with Dirty Hands (R1)


Innocents with Dirty Hands (R2, Arrow)

Cop Au Vin (R1, Kino)

Kino disc

Cop Au Vin (R2, Arrow)

Flower of Evil (R1, Lion's Gate)

Lion's gate

Flower of Evil(R2, Arrow)

The good news is that these discs are all improvements on the existing R1 discs as five of the six US transfers are poor standards conversions and all of these Arrow discs are properly dealt with in that respect. Most marked are the improvements to Road to Corinth, Innocents with Dirty Hands and Partie de Plaisir with better contrast, detail and sharpness in all of the transfers here even if they are still far from superb with noticeable compression artefacts and print damage. The difference is less marked with The Breech with merely marginal improvement in sharpness. Cop Au Vin looks a lot better properly converted with colours a little less vivid and the absence of combing is a relief as well, but the transfer does continue to have compression artefacts which are very noticeable in the house fire sequence. With Flower of Evil the improvements are much smaller still, but if you compare skin-tones between the two stills above, the Arrow disc is clearly more life-like and appropriate to the muted nature of Serra's cinematography.

The audio tracks offer less improvement and the Arrow discs forsake any English dubs available on the US releases. Flower of Evil is given a simple stereo mix rather than the surround track available stateside, and the older films have some hiss and pops on their audio which are just as apparent as the US releases. The exception to that is Partie de Plaisir which sounds far clearer and imperfection free that the Pathfinder disc already available. All of the Arrow discs are presented in French with English subtitles which are optional, in very readable white font and easy to follow.

In terms of special features these are largely bare-bones releases apart from the inclusion of a making of documentary for Flower of Evil and Joel Magny's introductions to Cop Au Vin and Flower of Evil. Magny's introductions are spoken essays over stills from the film giving background information about their development and themes. He discusses Karmitz's relationship with Chabrol on Cop Au Vin and the fact of Flower of Evil being Chabrol's fiftieth film. The making of piece on Flower of Evil captures Chabrol doing the thing he most loves - shooting the film. Intercut with comments from him and his cast and DP Eduardo Serra, the short film captures a light and fun mood on his set. He rarely goes beyond two takes and works with Serra to ensure that the camera movements and longish takes are carefully planned. His cast all report how much they are enjoying themselves and they indeed do seem to be having fun. The rest of the set, the four earlier films, are presented with just scene select and subtitle options on static themed menus.


There is plenty in this set of six films for the astute film fan to admire, but I would be getting above myself to pretend that Chabrol is to everyone's taste. His distanced, formal approach to film and his dark and subtle wit are an acquired taste, and this set may not appeal to people not already amongst his admirers. Individual films within the set will have broader appeal, his two later films especially, but the main audience for this set will be existing fans and this set is a definite improvement in visual quality to the existing poor US discs. More in the way of extras would have been nice, as would anamorphic transfers for all six films but given Chabrol's poor treatment on DVD so far this is a step up. Now if only someone would look at releasing on DVD his earlier and unreleased eighties films, that would be what he deserves. With the deaths of Antonioni and Bergman, it may be a stretch to claim Chabrol as the greatest living cineaste but as a completely biased fan I am not convinced of the case for Godard, Scorsese or others in his place. If you feel the same, there are rich pickings here.

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