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PREVIOUSLY PLAYED

PANIQUE

2:40   6:30

Friday, November 10 – Thursday, November 16

Directed by Julien Duvivier
Starring Michel Simon & Viviane Romance

(1947) In the end-of-the-tramway-from-Paris suburb Villejuif, suspicion and gossip run rampant. Immediate: last night’s murder of an old maid in that vacant lot near the church. Ongoing: bearded, aloof shutterbug Michel Simon’s Monsieur Hire (real name: the “foreign”-sounding Hirovitch). Is he a peeping tom? A pervert? Not the ideal spot for back-from-the-slammer Viviane Romance to start a new life – but then there’s sleazy old flame Paul Bernard hanging around. And her very open window is just across from Hire’s – who proves to have another life. Long unseen anywhere, Duvivier’s first film back in France after WWII Hollywood stint has steadily gained stature, not least because it’s that rare thing: an adaptation of Belgian crime titan Georges Simenon that’s actually darker than the original (his novel Mr. Hire’s Engagement), with its final shot, amid the village carnival that must still go on, the most callous – and doomed – thrill ride in film history. DCP restoration. Approx. 91 min.

Presented with support from The George Fasel Memorial Fund for Classic French Cinema.

Reviews

“A MASTERPIECE! Kicks off in a realist register, then gradually transforms into a noirish romance of deception until finally settling into a tragic allegory of wartime collaborationism and the cruel madness of rumor, fear and and spite… It’s not an easy watch. Except, of course, it is. It’s a joy to watch, because Duvivier is a master of shadows, of movement, of blocking. His film has the deep blacks and dark impulses of film noir but also the expansive, sociological sweep of a Western, with its portrait of a community on edge. His camera moves with purpose and power… Unforgettable.”
– Bilge Ebiri, The Village Voice 

“A TINGLING, COMPACT, KALEIDOSCOPIC THRILLER! Seeing it today in a beautifully modulated print, with Lenny Borger’s lucid and colloquial subtitles, should send shivers through audiences already worried about mob rule, enforced conformity, and a willingness to pin blame on anyone different.” 
– Michael Sragow, Film Comment
Read entire review here

“The allegory is thick and the camera movements are vertiginous… Plays like an unusually direct indictment of wartime anti-Semitism in France.”
– Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times

“DUVIVIER AND FRITZ LANG ARE THE TWO GREATEST FICTION DIRECTORS STILL AT WORK.”
– Graham Greene (1938)

“ONE OF THE 100 BEST FRENCH FILMS! Duvivier’s most personal and fully realized film… Michel Simon’s mesmerizing performance and the film’s visual style create an atmosphere of mounting anxiety, culminating in a frenetic lynching scene reminiscent of Fritz Lang’s Fury. Duvivier paints a bleak picture of human nature at its vilest and most cruel.” 
– Time Out

“A SIZZLING THRILLER, BEAUTIFULLY DIRECTED!” 
– Leonard Maltin

“A sordid, intriguingly nasty movie... Duvivier's psychological thriller is a devastatingly effective job of visual storytelling... in terms of how the sequences are planned, and how they build, it’s an unusual, NEAR-PERFECT PIECE OF FILM CRAFTSMANSHIP.”
– Pauline Kael

“TENSE AND ATMOSPHERIC! Some of the love scenes were advanced, even by the French standard of the time. Duvivier’s mastery is complete, showing him at his peak.”
– David Shipman

“VIVID AND DISTURBING! Develops an ironic theme within a bristling story that has elements of tenderness and charm. The brilliance of Duvivier’s direction, his deceptively random accumulation of details and then his sudden, explosive demonstration of the viciousness and cruelty of a mob and the astonishment and torment of the hunted are of superior and adult quality. Thanks to a brilliant performance by Michel Simon as the victim of cruel abuse—the symbol of animal alienation of any creature that is strange or ‘different’—the elements of irony and poignance are strongly evolved. And the hotly provocative vampirism of Viviane Romance as this Samson’s Delilah emphasizes most effectively the bitterness of treachery. Altogether they help to give toPanique such pictorial and intellectual honesty as renders it a thoroughly fascinating and sardonic social comment from the screen.”
– Bosley Crowther, The New York Times