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Quai des Orfèvres

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Quai des Orfèvres
Directed byHenri-Georges Clouzot
Screenplay byHenri-Georges Clouzot
Jean Ferry
Based onLégitime défense
1942 book
by Stanislas-André Steeman
Produced byRoger de Venloo
StarringLouis Jouvet
Suzy Delair
Bernard Blier
Simone Renant
CinematographyArmand Thirard
Edited byCharles Bretoneiche
Music byFrancis Lopez
Distributed byCoronis
Release date
3 October 1947 (1947-10-03TFrance)
Running time
106 minutes

Quai des Orfèvres (French: [ke dez‿ɔʁfɛvʁ]; "Goldsmiths' Quay"; also known as Jenny Lamour) is a 1947 French police procedural[1] drama film based on the book Légitime défense by Stanislas-Andre Steeman. Directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot the film stars Suzy Delair as Jenny Lamour, Bernard Blier as Maurice Martineau, Louis Jouvet as Inspector Antoine and Simone Renant as Dora.

The film was Clouzot's third directorial effort, and the first after the controversy of Le corbeau. Without having the novel on hand, Clouzot and Jean Ferry based the film on memory and deviated significantly from the original story.[1] The film was released in France and was popular with both audiences and critics. On the film's re-release in the United States in 2002, it continued to receive praise from critics as one of the director's best films.

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Paris, December 1946. Jenny Lamour (Delair) wants to succeed in the theatre. Her husband and accompanist is Maurice Martineau (Blier), a mild-mannered but jealous man. When he finds out that Jenny has been making eyes at Brignon, a lecherous old businessman, in order to further her career, he loses his temper and threatens Brignon with death. Despite this, Jenny goes to a secret rendezvous at Brignon's apartment. He is murdered the same evening. The criminal investigations are led by Inspector Antoine (Jouvet).


Quai des Orfèvres was directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot and was his first film in four years. Clouzot had been banned from film making after the controversy after the release Le corbeau and due to Clouzot's collaboration with the German-owned company Continental Films.[2][3] During Clouzot's inactivity, he wrote scripts for films that were never released. He met with producer Anatole Eliacheff who offered to financially back Clouzot's next film provided that it would be a commercial film. Clouzot suggested the Belgian murder mystery Légitime défense (English: Self-Defense) by Stanislas-André Steeman which he had read during the Occupation. This production was meant to be a commission to end Clouzot's four years of enforced inactivity and take advantage of the new popular style of crime literature. Clouzot had previously written screenplays based on Steeman's work including Georges Lacombe's Le Dernier des six (1943) and his own debut, L'Assassin habite au 21 (1942). Eliacheff agreed and shortly after sold the rights to another producer, Roger de Venloo.[4]

When trying to find a copy of Légitime défense to re-read, Clouzot found that it was out of print. Clouzot wrote a letter to Steeman to obtain a copy and began to adapt the story from memory with writer Jean Ferry. By the time a copy of the book arrived, Clouzot and Ferry had already written the script which deviated greatly from Steeman's novel. The changes in the script include the identity of the real murderer, the settings of the action, and the introduction of the lesbian photographer character Dora Monier.[4][5]

Quai des Orfèvres was also a comeback film for director-actor Louis Jouvet with whom Clouzot had become good friends before World War II. Jouvet accepted the part of Inspector Antoine on the condition that a flexible shooting schedule would be allowed and that Clouzot would cast some of Jouvet's troupe members in the film.[4] Clouzot agreed and cast Leo Lapara as one of Antoine's colleagues and Fernand René as the music hall director.[4] Clouzot cast Charles Dullin as Brignon, the murder victim. It would be the last film appearance for Dullin, who died in 1949. The main female lead was written for Suzy Delair who was Clouzot's romantic partner at the time of filming. The film went into production on 3 February 1947 and finished filming on 10 May.[4]


Release and reception

Quai des Orfèvres was released on 3 October 1947 in Paris.[8] In 1947, it was the fourth most popular film in France, drawing 5.5 million spectators.[9] The film has had several theatrical revivals in France since its original release.[4] The film was released in New York City in March 1948 under the title Jenny Lamour.[4][10] Quai des orfèvres was re-released for a limited run within America on 25 October 2002.[11][12]

Critical reception

The film received positive reception from critics on its initial release in France. Pierre Chartier of France-Libre wrote that the film was "a watershed in the history of the French crime film."[4] Jean Desternes of Combat praised the director Clouzot, referring to him as "not just a film director. He's a creative artist who sticks to his initial idea, works it out in shots, words, actions."[4] François Chalais wrote a positive review in Carrefour, stating the film "commands the keenest admiration at any given moment, the dialogue of the film is the work of a truly great and extremely subtle dramatist. That's one of M. Clouzot's most remarkable traits: he knows how to write."[4] At the 1947 Venice International Film Festival, Clouzot won the International Prize for Best Director for the film.[13] The film received positive critical reception in the United States on its initial release. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times referred to the film as "a fascinating and penetrating film".[10] Richard L. Coe of The Washington Post referred to the film as "a fine, engrossing French crime film".[14] Variety gave the film a positive review, proclaiming that "In every respect [Quai des Orfèvres] is outstanding."[15] In 1949, the film won an Edgar Award for Best Foreign film.[16]

Modern reception of the film has also been positive. French critics have continued to praise the film since its release. In 1964 Jean Mitry wrote that the film is "one of the few films—with Renoir's Rules of the Game, All About Eve, and two or three others—which allows us to think that the cinema, like the novel and the theater, can some day be an instrument for exploring the human soul."[4] In 1986, Michel Perez wrote a review for Le Matin de Paris stating that Quai des Orfèvres "was nothing less than the most powerful, best constructed, best written, best directed and most telling film about society of its day."[4] In 1995, a critics poll in the French film magazine Positif placed Quai des Orfèvres as the second greatest French thriller of all time.[17] The film ranking website Rotten Tomatoes reports a 100% approval rating, based on 32 reviews, with a weighted average of 8.34/10. The site's consensus reads: "Henri Georges-Clouzot's engrossing noir explores the troubles of post-war France and the line dividing social struggle and criminality".[18] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film has received an average score of 89, based on 10 reviews.[12]

Home media

Quai des Orfèvres was released in North America on DVD by The Criterion Collection on 27 May 2003.[19] In the United Kingdom, a DVD was released on 30 April 2007 by Optimum Releasing.[20] The Criterion DVD is now out of print.[21] Kino Lorber has released a 4K restoration of the film with supplements on Blu-ray and DVD.[22]


  1. ^ a b Sante, Luc (26 May 2003). "Quai des Orfèvres". Film essay. Criterion Collection. Retrieved 20 October 2011. Quai des Orfèvres is nominally a policier—a crime story, less a mystery than a police procedural; its title, referring to the Parisian equivalent of Scotland Yard, announces it....Clouzot himself was not especially interested in the whodunit aspect, as can be seen from the fact that when he couldn't turn up a copy of the source novel by the prolific Belgian pulp writer Stanislas-André Steeman, he adapted it from memory, leaving only faint traces of the original story.
  2. ^ Le Corbeau (Back cover). Henri-Georges Clouzot. New York City, United States: The Criterion Collection. 2004 [1942]. 227.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  3. ^ Tavernier, Bertrand (interviewee) (2002). Bertrand Tavernier interview (DVD). New York City, United States: The Criterion Collection. ISBN 0-7800-2786-8. Retrieved 16 August 2009.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Borger, Lenny (2002). "Production Notes on the "Quai" of Inspector Clouzot". Film Forum. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 10 March 2010.
  5. ^ Mayne 2007, p.88
  6. ^ Simiac, Pierre (November 1980). "Quai des Orfèvres". Polar, le Magazine du Policier (in French). 1 (15): 63 – via Internet Archive.
  7. ^ Biggs, Melissa E. (1996). French films, 1945-1993: a critical filmography of the 400 most important releases. MacFarland. p. 225. ISBN 9780786400249. LCCN 95010539. Retrieved 15 August 2023.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ Borger, Lenny (2002). "Production Credits". Film Forum. Archived from the original on 10 July 2007. Retrieved 10 March 2010.
  9. ^ Lloyd 2007, p. 30
  10. ^ a b Crowther, Bosley (8 March 1948). "'Jenny Lamour,' French Crime Film, Stars Louis Jouvet, Playing the Detective" (requires subscription). The New York Times: 17. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  11. ^ "About Rialto". Rialto Pictures. Archived from the original on 9 January 2011. Retrieved 11 March 2010.
  12. ^ a b "Quai des Orfèvres (re-release): Reviews". Metacritic. CNET Networks, Inc. Retrieved 11 March 2010.
  13. ^ Crisp, 1997. p 427
  14. ^ Coe, Richard L. (4 May 1948). "Realism Etches French Whodunit" (requires subscription). The Washington Post. p. 16. Retrieved 10 February 2010.
  15. ^ "Quai des Orfevres Review". Variety. 1947. Retrieved 4 August 2010.
  16. ^ "The Edgar Awards Database (search "Clouzot")". Retrieved 11 March 2010.
  17. ^ Lloyd 2007, p. 63
  18. ^ "Quai des Orfèvres". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
  19. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Quai des Orfevres [Criterion Collection]: Overview". Allmovie. Archived from the original on 7 July 2012. Retrieved 11 March 2010.
  20. ^ "Optimum Releasing: Quai des Orfevres". Allmovie. Archived from the original on 7 October 2010. Retrieved 11 March 2010.
  21. ^ "Quai des Orfèvres". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  22. ^ "Quai des Orfèvres". Kino Lorber. Retrieved 31 January 2022.


External links

This page was last edited on 21 August 2023, at 03:38
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