Henri-Georges Clouzot is often overlooked as a leading director of the world’s best mysteries and thrillers, but with the release of DIABOLIQUE ( available today), Criterion is seeing to it that one of cinema’s great original masters is getting his due. “Before PSYCHO, PEEPING TOM and REPULSION, there was DIABOLIQUE (1955),” which Clouzot directed right after his 1953 blockbuster thriller THE WAGES OF FEAR (starring Yves Montand, Peter van Eyck and Clouzot’s wife, Vera). Its resounding success with audiences in Europe and the U.S. solidified Clouzot’s reputation as one of France’s premiere directors. Dubbed “the French Hitchcock,” Clouzot’s films became known for their psychological depth and nuance and their refreshing unpredictability. Clouzot beat Hitchcock to the punch more than once in terms of film technique and storytelling, but one thing the two directors have in common is their tireless dedication to craft. Clouzot obsessed over the smallest of details and was notorious for the demanding work ethic he required of his actors. He frequently took dozens and dozens of takes of a single shot, often for seemingly unimportant reasons. In DIABOLIQUE, for instance, Clouzot wasn’t happy with the way Simone Signoret turned to leave the room in one scene. Though the shot was just of her back, Clouzot insisted that her anger wasn’t real; Her hands were in her pockets but he could tell they weren’t clenched into fists.
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