Le giallo francaise: The Bride Wore Black (1968) + Le Boucher (1970)

July 2, 2015 | By

This is called a movie poster, not a Photoshopped big actor head thingy that’s sadly become the norm among studios.

Paired together in this update are two films often cited as Hitchcockian homages by pioneers of the French New Wage, both of whom authored seminal books on the career of the esteemed Master of Suspense.

In 1962, Francois Truffaut began a series of interviews that resulted in the 1967 book Hitchcock Truffaut, which presented lengthy discussions  (further details and download links here), whereas Claude Chabrol and Eric Rohmer authored Hitchcock in 1957, often regarded as the first serious attempt to analyze the oeuvre of a single filmmaker.

Truffaut’s homage, The Bride Wore Black (1968), is based on a story by Cornell Woolrich, whose prose also formed the basis of Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1956), whereas Chabrol’s Le Boucher / The Butcher (1970) has Hitchcockian elements which Chabrol has reportedly explored in prior work (which I’ll dig into from time to time).

Both filmmakers applied their own sensibilities to their respective homages, and yet while Truffaut’s Bride may follow more closely the Hitchcock formula of murder, suspicion, and dramatic action, Chabrol’s film owes more to the Italian giallo, especially in its use of secluded locations (an insular village), and a tone and pacing far different from Truffaut’s brisker approach. It also helps that Pierre Jansen’ Boucher score is very Morriconesque, in terms of instrumentation and experimental sounds (although unlike Morricone, Jansen offers no lullaby or sweet theme; everything is abstract, profane, and sometimes grungy).

Twilight Time’s Blu-ray of Bride features two dub versions of the film (apparently the music edits differ), and a bonus CD featuring a 79 min. interview with Bernard Herrmann from 1970 that’s been branded ‘an unvarnished chat’, which it most certainly is.

I think I face-palmed about 10 times during this amazing gem that comes from the archives at The Film Music Society. The CD alone is worth the purchase, and makes for a great tribute, especially since Herrmann would’ve been 104 on June 29th. One can only imagine what he would’ve thought of the state of film music and films at that age.

Boucher_Le_Fr_posterLe Boucher is a film need of a proper transfer, period.

Pathfinder’s Chabrol releases are generally well-produced, but the transfers are often from less than ideal PAL sources. This one’s better than expected, but this conversion / transfer is circa 2003, and we’ve advanced a heck of a lot since then. A HD version of Boucher would look sumptuous, but there’s a sense Chabrol’s canon has been marginalized or forgotten, especially when formal Italian gialli are being remastered and released by class indie labels.

Perhaps it’s time for Chabrol to be rediscovered?


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Quick notes before the next imminent update:

1) Twilight Time just announced their web portal (website) – yes, there’s finally a site that gathers everything under one roof – and I suspect a message board might be in the works, which will enable fans and critics to address assorted topics as done at Criterion’s site. If such a extension comes to fruition, maybe it’ll put further focus on film music, since the label in most cases manages to come through with isolated score tracks, and commentary tracks that emphasize the contributions and careers of many great composers.

2) Toronto’s tally of local video stores has shrunk yet again, with 2Q Video shuttering their Bloor Street location June 2nd. Not good news, as it means there’s maybe 10 stores left in the city, most in the west end.

3) Happy Canada Day! We’re older, bigger, more diverse, and deserve better government. Try and see through the loathsome attack ads that have dropped questionable taste to new levels; be amused by the weird ones that seem directed by 3 year olds; and remember to keep your bullshit meter plugged in, because this election’s going to be nasty. In past elections one might vote for the lesser hypocrite, but this time it’s to give the most ideological, destructive, arrogant, and smug figure his pink slip.

Coming next: reviews of the SOV shocker Spine (1986) from Massacre Video, and Mary Dore’s documentary on the women’s movement She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry (2014), playing July 4-9 at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema.



Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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