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BRIDE WORE BLACK, THE (LA MARIEE ETAIT EN NOIR)(director/writer: François Truffaut; screenwriters: Jean-Louis Richard/based on the novel by Cornell Woolrich (as William Irish); cinematographer: Raoul Coutard; editor: Claudine Bouché; music: Bernard Herrmann; cast: Jeanne Moreau (Julie Kohler), Jean-Claude Brialy (Corey), Michel Bouquet (Coral), Charles Denner (Fergus), Claude Rich (Bliss), Daniel Boulanger (Delvaux), Michel Lonsdale (Morane), Claude Rich (Bliss), Charles Denner (Fergus), Alexandra Stewart (Mlle Becker); Runtime: 107; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Marcel Berbert; MGM Home Entertainment; 1968-France-in French with English subtitles)
“It’s an entertaining film even if it doesn’t completely work.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

François Truffaut (“Mississippi Mermaid”/”Jules and Jim”/”The Wild Child”) calls his film a love story, which it is if you think about it. He directs an implausible but elegantly stylish tribute to Hitchcock. It’s about a melancholy widow, Julie Kohler (Jeanne Moreau), set on getting revenge on the five men who accidentally shot to death her husband on the church steps after their wedding. It’s based on the novel by Cornell Woolrich.

Julie dresses mostly in black and sometimes white, as she inventively and systematically takes care of business with the five men—pushing off the balcony the engaged playboy Bliss (Claude Rich), poisoning the lonely timid bachelor bank clerk Coral (Michel Bouquet), suffocating the aspiring pompous family man politician Morane (Michael Lonsdale), saving for last the crooked used car dealer Delvaux (Daniel Boulanger) as he’s arrested for handling stolen goods before she can kill him, and using a bow and arrow to do away with the womanizing artist she poses for named Fergus (Charles Denner).

Almost fulfilling all her goals, Julie allows herself to be caught and confesses to the crimes, but won’t give away her motive. While in prison, she serves food to the male inmates and with a butcher knife stabs Delvaux to death.

Hitchcock’s music man, Bernard Herrmann, offers a pulsating score. Truffaut says he also meant it as a tribute to his mentor, Jean Renoir. As the film turns into a character study, comedy takes over and a dark Gallic humor presides that Renoir could feel at home with.

It’s an entertaining film even if it doesn’t completely work except as an exercise of style (the mixture of suspense and comedy never jells), with no discernible message except the five horrible out-of-control chauvinist men would have gotten away with murder if not for vigilante justice and that Moreau’s colorful intense character has a few screws loose.

REVIEWED ON 11/14/2008 GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”