Unboxing the Silents (well, kinda): Clouzot- The Early Works

Henri-Georges Clouzot is, of course, a legend in the world of thrillers. The Wages of Fear and Les Diaboliques are justly acclaimed but they came along decades into his career. What about Clouzot at the beginning? This two-disc Bluray set tracks his early career.

A big thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy.

Presented by Kino and Lobster Films, Clouzot: The Early Works contains a whopping six feature films and one short on two Blurays or three DVDs. While these 1931-1933 French productions are all talkies, Clouzot worked with silent era veterans throughout his career and the chance to see early talkie work from names like Carmine Gallone, Victor Tourjansky and Anatole Litvak was enough to make me want to dive into this set. Clouzot only directs one film out of the seven but wrote or co-wrote the screenplays for six of them.

You can order a copy here.

The visual quality ranges from decent to pristine, as is expected in a mix of older films. Here’s a sample:

Dragnet Night (1931) Dir: Carmine Gallone
Dragnet Night (1931) Dir: Carmine Gallone
I’ll Be Alone After Midnight (1931) Dir: Jacques de Baroncelli
I’ll Be Alone After Midnight (1931) Dir: Jacques de Baroncelli
The Unknown Singer (1931) Dir: Victor Tourjansky
The Unknown Singer (1931) Dir: Victor Tourjansky
The Terror of Batignolles (1931) Dir: Henri-Georges Clouzot
The Terror of Batignolles (1931) Dir: Henri-Georges Clouzot
My Cousin from Warsaw (1931) Dir: Carmine Gallone
My Cousin from Warsaw (1931) Dir: Carmine Gallone
Tell Me Tonight (1932) Dir: Anatole Litvak
Tell Me Tonight (1932) Dir: Anatole Litvak
Dream Castle (1933) Dir: Géza von Bolváry
Dream Castle (1933) Dir: Géza von Bolváry

If you are looking for early hints of Clouzot’s later thrillers, you won’t find much to love about this set. However, as I am not the biggest fan of the whole auteur notion (I love directors, don’t get me wrong, but I view films as collaborative and feel that chameleon filmmakers deserve equal respect), I prefer to look at this set as a valuable grab bag of early French talkies that would not likely have been released in the North American market any other way. And since I rather like French films, this is a win. The selections presented here are more of the musical, comedic crowdpleasers that would have delighted average French audiences of the period and that is valuable in itself.

Get this set for yourself or for the Francophile in your life. If, like me, you are fascinated by the day-to-day moviegoing experience of average citizens, this will be particularly interesting. How much is Clouzot? Not much but any excuse for more French cinema is okay by me.

This set is a bargain at the price and while it is pretty nerdy, that’s kind of my stock in trade. I’m happy to have it.

Please note that this release is region A. Be sure to check your player for compatibility before ordering.

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