Article 1990 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 8-26-2006
Posting Date: 1-23-2007
Directed by Claude Chabrol
Featuring Charles Denner, Michele Morgan, Danielle Darrieux
In order to support his wife and family, an antique dealer takes to marrying, seducing and murdering lonely women for their money.
This is the fourth version of the Landru story that I’ve covered. In approach, it’s most similar to Chaplin’s take on the story, MONSIEUR VERDOUX. Based on some comments on IMDB, I gather that this is fairly faithful to the facts, and that Charles Denner looks very much like Landru. The dubbing seems to have been quite good; and the first half of the movie is very effective; watching how Landru meets and wins over his victims is fascinating and witty; he is particularly adept at figuring out what techniques work best with each individual woman. Much of it plays with an effective comic edge, and some of Chabrol’s direction is simply beautiful. It does have certain problems, though; once you reach a certain point in the story, you don’t need to see any more of Landru’s methods, but the movie continues to dwell on them when it should move on to his capture and trial. Unfortunately, once the arrest is made, the charm goes out of the story, and things get a bit dull; maybe the director just wanted to stretch out the better part of the movie. At any rate, it runs too long, and though it does have definite points of interest, I think the viewer would probably be better off with Chaplin’s take on the story.