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aka - Raven, The
France 1942
Directed by
Henri-Georges Clouzot
88 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Corbeau, Le

Le Corbeau is regularly referred to as a suspense thriller, even a noir suspense thriller but it is more of a satire than anything resembling even Clouzot’s later work in the suspense genre. Based on a real-life case which took place in Tulle in the 1920s it tells the story of a small French provincial town torn apart by the revelations of a poison-pen letter writer who calls himself (or herself) “Le Corbeau”. 

The film was banned and Clouzot black-balled in the immediate post-WWII period partly because of its scathing and supposedly subversively unpatriotic representation of petit-bourgeois hypocrisy and partly because it was made under the Vichy regime which made Clouzot a collaborator in some people’s eyes although the two claims hardly gel. 

Today it is widely regarded as a masterpiece of French cinema. Whilst an engaging film with a commendable social critique and frankness about sexual matters and strikingy photographed by Nicolas Hayer, for most people that will be an overstatement of its merits as it doesn’t quite manage to transcend a rather creakily melodramatic period style.

FYI: The film was remade in Hollywood by Otto Preminger as The 13th Letter (1951) and set in Quebec with Charles Boyer in the lead.

DVD Extras: Audio Commentary by Dr. Adrian Martin of Monash University; Original theatrical trailer

Available from: Madman




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