LES DIABOLIQUES (DIABOLIQUE) (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1955)
MoMA Film, Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd St. between Fifth & Sixth Aves.
Friday, December 9, 7:30, and Sunday, December 11, 5:15
Series runs through December 24
Tickets: $12, in person only, may be applied to museum admission within thirty days, same-day screenings free with museum admission, available at Film and Media Desk beginning at 9:30 am
Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Les Diaboliques is a masterpiece of suspense, a psychological thriller that never lets up. This intense noir stars Véra Clouzot as Christina Delassalle, the mousy owner of a private school for boys run by her nasty, sadistic husband, Michel (Paul Meurisse), who is having an affair with teacher Nicole Horner (Simone Signoret). Nicole conspires with Vera to murder Michel and dump his body in a pool, and the plan works, if not exactly perfectly. Shortly after that, a young student claims to have seen the headmaster alive, frightening Christina and forcing Nicole to — well, we’ve already said too much. As the end credits say, “Don’t be devils. Don’t ruin the interest your friends could take in this film. Don’t tell them what you saw.” Les Diaboliques is based on the novel Celle qui n’était pas (The Woman Who Was No More) by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac, who also wrote D’entre les morts (The Living and the Dead), which was turned into the Alfred Hitchcock classic Vertigo. Sadly, Véra Clouzot, wife of director Henri-Georges, died five years after Les Diaboliques came out, at the age of forty-six, of a heart condition. Les Diaboliques is screening at MoMA on December 9 at 7:30 and December 11 at 5:15 as part of its Henri-Georges Clouzot retrospective, which begins December 8 with the harrowing classic The Wages of Fear and continues through December 24 with such other films as Strangers in the House, The Murderer Lives at Number 21, Manon, and Quai des Orfèvres.