NON COUPABLE
NOT GUILTY
1947, TF1, 95 min, France, Dir: Henri Decoin

The “provincial gothic” (a subgenre of French noir that evolved during the Occupation era) takes a macabre turn into madness in this tale of a small-town doctor (a towering Michel Simon) who develops dangerous delusions of grandeur when he gets away with the killing of a local adversary. He hatches a plan for multiple murders - and continues to get away with them. Will his beleaguered girlfriend (Jany Holt) find a way to stop his killing spree? Or is he truly invincible? Director Decoin and screenwriter Marc-Gilbert Sauvajon show us that postwar French noir needed no help from its American counterpart to tap into extremes of mayhem and misanthropy. The screening of a restored print of this film last year in Lyon literally left the audience speechless - don't miss it!


PANIQUE
1946, Rialto Pictures, 91 min, France, Dir: Julien Duvivier

“If I were an architect and I had to build a monument to the cinema,” wrote Jean Renoir, “I would place a statue of Julien Duvivier above the entrance.” Duvivier made 70 films between 1919 and 1967, many of them landmarks of French cinema. His first postwar project, a noir adaptation of Georges Simenon's Mr. Hire’s Engagement (later adapted by Patrice Leconte as MONSIEUR HIRE), stars Michel Simon as a reviled voyeur framed for a murder by the girl he adores. Now widely considered the finest Simenon adaptation but criticized at the time for its bleakness, the long-unseen PANIQUE has finally been given the vivid restoration it deserves.


BLANCHE
1972, 92 min, France, Dir: Walerian Borowczyk

In the title role, Ligia Branice plays the beautiful wife of an aging nobleman in 13th-century France. When the king visits their castle, both he and his page fall madly in love with the innocent Blanche, and the men of the castle soon are pitted against one another. A Grand Prix winner at the Berlin International Film Festival, and one of Borowczyk’s best, the film’s medieval visuals and music reflect the eye and ear of a master craftsman.


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