Sortileges (1945)

aka The Bellman
Article 4010 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 8-22-2012
Directed by Christian-Jaque
Featuring Lucien Coedel, Fernand Ledoux, Renee Faure
Country: France
What it is: Crime thriller with horror elements

A bellman – that is, a man whose job it is to help lost travelers in the Alps find their way from the ringing of a bell – kills a traveler for his money and splits the proceeds with a companion. However, complications follow…

This is the fourth day in a row that I’ve been able to watch a movie that had fallen into my “ones that got away” list (and I offer my sincere thanks to those board members on CHFB who were able to point me in the direction of them). Like yesterday’s movie, this one is in French without English subtitles, so some of the plot elements are lost on me. It’s a shame; this is one I really wish I could understand more, because what I see is quite intriguing. It’s a visual treat; the snowy locations, the scenes of the murder victim’s horse running wild, and a wonderful dancing sequence are the definite highlights here. I’m not sure exactly to what extent this is a horror movie; the original plot descriptions made me think that the bellman was responsible for several murders (making him something of a serial killer), but only one occurs onscreen during the length of the movie, so if there were others, the details are hidden in the dialogue. However, the wild horse scenes give the sense of a vengeful spirit from hell, and there’s a sequence that may have touches of black magic when an ailing woman is revived with the blood of a bird. The movie seems to be forgotten nowadays, but I really hope a subtitled copy comes to light; whether it’s really a horror movie or not, it does appear to be a gripping and memorable movie.


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