L’Affaire des poisons (1955)

aka The Poison Affair
Article 3143 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-15-2010
Posting Date: 3-23-2010
Directed by Henri Decoin
Featuring Danielle Darrieux, Viviane Romance, Paul Meurisse
Country: France / Italy
What it is: Historical crime drama with horror touches

A mistress, jealous of a new rival for the king’s affections, plans to frame the new mistress for the poisonings of several nobles.

I knew the bare basics of the plot before I saw this movie, but even with that as a helper, I found much of the movie, which I was only able to see in French without subtitles, very difficult to follow. Things get a little better about forty minutes into it when the poisonings begin, and though I spot a clear villainess, I still found the details very unclear because of my lack of comprehension of the language. So we’ll pass by the plot for the time being and look at the genre touches. The plot description I saw didn’t offer much help in this regard, though a case could be made for the “serial killer” theme. On seeing the movie, however, the touches become clearer; the story involves witchcraft and black masses, and part of the plot revolves around a wax doll of a woman which has a needle thrust through it. There’s also a harrowing torture sequence. Visually, it’s probably most enjoyable to people who love period costumes, but there are some sequences that have a nice moodiness to them. Still, until I can see it subtitled, I’ll reserve any sort of judgment on this one.


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