L’auberge rouge (1923)
Article 5557 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Jean Epstein
Featuring Leon Mathot, Gina Manes, Jean-David Evremond
What it is: Crime / mystery
Two travelers encounter a diamond merchant at an inn. One of them is tempted to murder and rob the merchant, but doesn’t… only to wake up and find the merchant murdered and robbed.
My main familiarity with Jean Epstein is as the director of a 1928 version of THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER, a movie that is so visually stunning that I overlook that in terms of story-telling, he’s not quite as successful. There are some nice visual touches to this movie as well, but it’s not as striking in that regard as the later movie, and so I notice that this one is slow and not always effective. For one thing, it spends too much time on the framing story (in which the events are told as a tale at a dinner table) than it does on the meat of the tale. Granted, the print I saw was about eight minutes short of the running time listed on IMDB, so there’s a chance I’m missing some details, but overall, I consider this one less effective. The fantastic content mostly revolves around the presence of a fortune teller that predicts the upcoming murder.