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Henri-Georges Clouzot

Henri-Georges Clouzot

One of the few contemporaries of Hitchcock who gave the Master of Suspense a run for his money, Henri-Georges Clouzot dealt in misanthropic, black-humored tales of greed, jealousy, murder, immorality, and revenge. Though perhaps best known for 1955’s Gothic noir Diabolique, one of the most influential thrillers of all time and a film that Hitchcock himself admired (and wished to outdo), Clouzot first made his mark in French cinema in the 1940s. His politically charged, 1943 Le corbeau was a highly controversial story of a poison-pen letter that uncovers the dirty secrets of an entire town; viewed in retrospect, it’s Clouzot’s first important statement on the corruption of community. Subsequent Clouzot films would be built on the same theme in different milieus: the entertainment underworld of Quai des Orfèvres, the mercenary imperialism of the white-knuckle adventure The Wages of Fear. Once widely misunderstood—the director was charged with Nazi sympathies for Le corbeau and was derided by the French New Wave—the work of Henri-Georges Clouzot today looks far ahead of its time.