Director: Julien Duvivier
Screenplay: Julien Duvivier, Charles Spaak
Cast: Viviane Romance, Michel Simon
Based on the novel ‘Les Fiançailles de M. Hire’ by George Simenon
Just after end of WWII, Julien Duvivier went back homeland from America and made Georges Simenon’s novel into a film of suspenseful, painful and fearful story.
A woman is murdered and the police starts an investigation around that crime scene. A lonely Jewish man, Monsieur Hire lives in the neighborhood and accidentally knows true murderer.
The murderer uses Hire’s secret, that Hire secretly falls in love with his girlfriend Alice, and traps Hire. He and Alice manipulate police’s investigation and stir up ill feeling of people in the community against Jewish Hire.
People go crazy by mass hysteria. Hire is never given the chance to prove his innocence and finally is cornered to hopeless situation.
Monsieur Hire was caught off his guard by murderer and as a result of it, was killed by mass hysteria. The savage and prejudice in man are never quite eradicated. A tiny spur can stir up people’s negativity and make them rush at tragedy. This film shows us the dark sides of human beings’ mind in a tense and horrifying way of narrative.
But the most tragic thing of this story is that his true affection and kindness toward a woman were totally one-sided and they put a halter round his neck. I have never seen such a cruel betrayal.
Patrice Leconte remade this film as ‘Monsieur Hire’ in 1989. In Leconte version, the story attaches importance to the twisted relationship between Monsieur Hire and Alice through Hire’s secret behavior. The tense relation of one-sidedly watching and being watched might breed a kind of sensuality. I know it sounds strange, but actually violating taboo makes our sense more keen. That kind of sensual feeling is one of Leconte’s motifs. I love Leconte’s version too because Monsieur Hire’s love is depicted as pure emotion rather than weird one.
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