Fr : version française / En: english version

mheu, Historical Museum of the Urban Environment

Les diaboliques

Henri-Georges Clouzot

1h 54mins
© Inès Clouzot / TF1 International

View this work in the Bathing exhibition

The work

The 1955 film Les diaboliques, written by Boileau-Narcejac, stars Simone Signoret, Paul Meurisse, Vera Clouzot (the director's wife), Charles Vanel and Pierre Larquey. The film moves through various genres: starting off as a film noir, it slips into fantasy before returning to pure thriller.

The wife and mistress of a boarding school headmaster who tyrannizes them both decide to murder him. But the body disappears... while it seems to appear to the killers...

And that is all we can tell you for, as it says in the anti-spoiler message at the end of the film: "Don't reveal the plot of Les diaboliques to your friends!"

Among the young actors making their debut in the film are Jean Lefebvre, Michel Serrault, and Johnny Hallyday as a young schoolboy.

The artist

The French film director Henri-Georges Clouzot was born in Niort in 1907. On completing his traditional studies, he became a journalist before getting involved in adapting screenplays for the cinema. He made his first feature film in 1942—The Murderer Lives at Number 21—with Pierre Fresnay and Suzy Delair (his companion), followed by Le corbeau in 1943, which led to a temporary ban on working in films after the Liberation. After the ban was lifted, he re-established his reputation and made the most successful films of his career, including Quai des Orfèvres (which won Best Director at the 1947 Venice Film Festival), Manon (an adaptation of Manon Lescaut), Le salaire de la peur (The Wages of Fear) and Les diaboliques. He turned to documentary film-making with the highly-acclaimed Le Mystère Picasso.

A traditional director and a perfectionist who was interested in the darker side of human nature, he had a reputation for tyrannizing his actors to get the most out of the highly polished screenplays. Gradually, producers and the public alike began to turn away from him in favor of filmmakers of the New Wave. He died in Paris in 1977.