Les Diabolique
aka, DIABOLIQUE. 1955
Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Les Diabolique At a boarding school for boys, the lads are heading home for a three day weekend. While they're gone, there are going to be some changes made among Les Diabolilques (1955).

The school's headmaster Michel Delassalle (Paul Meurisse) is a real bastard who openly beats his mistress Nicole (Simone Signore) & maltreats his wife Cricri (Vera Clouzot).

So the two women console one another about Michel's abusiveness, reinforcing a growing mutual hatred for Michel.

In their closeness, Nicole & Cricri have often fantasized killing Michel. But now Nicole is confirmed in doing it. Frail Cricri, a Catholic with heart disease, fears the plan only because she believes in Hell, not because it wouldn't be nice to do him in.

Les DiaboliqueThe school was always Cricri's property & if she divorced Michel, she'd get back control over her property. This has worried Michel a bit, but Cricri's Caltholicism means she fears the idea of divorce even more than murder.

There are lesbian underpinnings, as when Michel asks his wife about her bed, "Whose bed is it? Yours or hers?" "Ours!" insists Cricri. In fact, she & Nicole are a bit of a butch/femme couple, with Cricri following Nicole's lead in all things.

The gals devise a plan they believe to be risk free, with no chance of being caught by the police, beginning with a vial of a powerful sleep potion. They intend to dope him through his liquor, drown him in a tub, & get rid of the body in a large basket. The plan will of course prove to have more than a few holes in it.

Les DiaboliqueNicole is a tough-minded woman & for a long time it's hard to tell whether or not she honestly cares about Cricri, who is horribly fragile. As things go awry, great strain is put on the fariler woman's heart.

When the pool is drained, which was where they discarded the body, the corpse isn't there. Cricri's nervous fears heighten & Nicole's strength is undermined. When the suit they drowned Michel in comes back from the drycleaners, the mystery deepens.

Someone's got to be messing with the two women, but who could suspect so much? The women's closeness is shattered by fear, confusion, mistrust.

A retired detective, Alfred Fichet (Charles Vanel), does not appear in the story for the first hour or so. But when he turns up, he's most worrying. His attitude is lowkey & Columboesque. He just seems always to have some new reason to check in on the two gals.

The revelation that is comoing I shan't reveal. But Diabolique is regarded as a classic with good cause. This is one of the world's great suspense thrillers.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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