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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!

1957, Gaumont, 90 min, France, Dir: Raymond Bailly

Ever wonder what Jeanne Moreau was up to before she took over the Paris night in ELEVATOR TO THE GALLOWS? It turns out she was in more than a dozen French noirs, including L’ETRANGE MONSIEUR STEVE - where the action is both criminal and amorous. As the moll of a clever gangster (played by singer Armand Mestral), Moreau seduces a milquetoast bank teller (Philippe Lemaire) only to inexplicably fall in love with him - which, as they say in France, makes things très compliqué! Also on hand to create added menace is Lino Ventura as Mestral’s hulking right-hand man. MONSIEUR STEVE benefits from a witty script by Frédèric Dard, master of the San Antonio series and often called “the Raymond Chandler of France.”

1952, Pathe, 97 min, France, Dir: Bernard Borderie

The first of Eddie Constantine’s (France’s biggest star of the 1950s) jokey, self-referential Lemmy Caution tales, LA MOME VERT-DE-GRIS also features blonde bombshell Dominique Wilms, who leaves every man she meets during the film’s delirious action more than a little breathless. As Bertrand Tavernier noted, Constantine’s alter ego Lemmy Caution is the template for James Bond - though he’s clearly more hangdog and unkempt than the suave British spy. But Constantine wins us over with his crooked smile, his love of liquor and women, and his reckless courage in the face of gunfire. LA MOME VERT-DE-GRIS makes it clear why Paris was at Eddie’s feet in the ’50s, and you’ll want to scratch that itch for more Lemmy!

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