Les cinq gentlemen maudits (1931)

Article 3570 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-1-2011
Posting Date: 5-24-2011
Directed by Julien Duvivier
Featuring Harry Baur, Rene Lefevre, Rosine Derean
Country: France
What it is: Curse movie

After attempting to remove the veil from a woman, five men are placed under a curse by an Algerian beggar, who lists the order of their deaths. Then they begin to die, one by one…

My copy of this movie is in unsubtitled French, so part of the plot description comes from other sources and a few reviews I read. The basic plot appears to be straightforward enough, and with a little foreknowledge it’s easy to see the significance of a number of the scenes; I was even able to figure out a little what was going on with the plot twists towards the end. Nevertheless, I don’t think it was really the story that works best here; what is really effective are some of Duvivier’s directorial touches and the effective use location footage in Morocco, where the story takes place. The use of music is also quite effective; you really get a sense that you’ve been transported to an alien culture from the very first moments in the movie. The movie doesn’t have a really high reputation, but I liked what I saw; bear in mind, of course, that I couldn’t understand the dialogue, which no doubt makes a difference. I’ve seen Harry Baur before and quite like his work, but despite his getting top billing, it appears that he really has a secondary role here.


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