Maryville Talks Movies: Les Diaboliques
October 25, 2018 @ 6:15 pm
Maryville Talks Movies brings together students and the St. Louis community to watch and discuss significant films in a variety of genres. This week’s film will be Les Diaboliques, which was released in 1955. Professor Germaine Fry Murray and Bascom Honors student Jake Billingsley will introduce the movie and then, after the viewing, lead a presentation and/or Q&A session.
Henri-Georges Clouzot directed, produced, and wrote this 1955 horror film based on the French novel She Who Was No More. The film focuses on two female teachers working for an abusive headmaster at a French boys boarding school. One of the teachers, played by Vera Clouzot, is married to the headmaster. The other is his mistress, played by Simone Signoret. With a marriage plagued by abuse, the two women seem to have only one solution: murder. Les Diaboliques was critically and commercially successful when released and because of its success the foreign film gained traction across the Atlantic and into American cinemas, defying both economic and genre standards.
Alfred Hitchcock, who is rumored to have only been a few hours late on obtaining rights to She Who Was No More, shares the aesthetic that Clouzot uses in the film. The shower scene in Psycho (1960) is said to have been Hitchcock’s way of outdoing and paying homage to Clouzot’s famous bathtub sequence. Hitchcock wasn’t the only filmmaker influenced by the film. Stanley Kubrick references Les Diaboliques in The Shining (1980) with the infamous typewriter scene. Clouzot once cited his inspiration for making the film: “I sought only to amuse myself and the little child who sleeps in all our hearts – the child who hides her head under the bedcovers and begs, ‘Daddy, Daddy, frighten me.”