Le Corbeau aka The Raven (1942, Small Town Poison Pen Henri-Georges Clouzot Drama) – 8/10 movie review

Cast / crew
Pierre Fresnay: Rémy Germain
Ginette Leclerc: Denise Saillens
Writer (Scenario): Louis Chavance
Writer (Adaptation and Dialogue): Henri-Georges Clouzot
Writer (Adaptation and Dialogue): Louis Chavance
Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot

Le Corbeau aka The Raven (1942)

A small French village becomes the domain of a poison pen writer who call themselves The Raven. Their target is Germain, a lascivious local doctor with a reputation for performing abortions, but soon their scope widens.


Splendidly riveting small-town drama. It always impresses me how films from this period had no real problem with presenting adult scenarios. They didn’t need to shy away from them and there is no confusion over what is going on. Here we have adultery, abortion, sex out of wedlock, insanity, jealousy, morphine abuse and murder-by-proxy without a thrusting bottom in sight. Oh, and plain murder (or justice, should we say). And the entire town degenerates into a mob. There’s even a brilliant scene where a politician finds out he’s been replaced by reading a newspaper which feels like a gag sixty years too early. This film where a French town writhes in the mire of mistrust caused by informants (and, we shouldn’t forget, the naughty goings on in the first place; the Raven doesn’t lie) was made by a French filmmaker in the Nazi occupation of France during World War II. Brilliantly, he managed to upset both the French (‘we’re not spineless immoral self-white-washing tattle-tales’) and the Nazis (‘no-one’s going to want be an informant after watching this’) at the same time. So, a bit brilliant, then.

This movie contains a mild swear word, adult dialogue, references to substance abuse and gory and unpleasant scene and sensuality.

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

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