THE BRIDE WORE BLACK (1968, France)

bride-wore-black-2Time for me to get nostalgic about my first few posts and this was the very first, so if you missed it back in March (I started off writing reviews that were too short and cold–then realized they needed more length & warmth). So here it is again. How can you resist? I didn’t think so either. Seriously though, this is one of my more sexy reviews. It has to be. Jeanne Moreau is the star and her middle name is Sexy. You’re eyes and brain will thank you for it ….

Getting married in a picturesque French village? Then you might want to think of investing in a bullet proof jacket first. Our heroine is widowed within minutes of uttering “Je fais”. The church steps splattered with hubby’s blood. Yes, this is the Gallic equivalent of Dealy Plaza, Dallas November 22, 1963. Only difference is that no one knows who this dude is.

I tell a lie, his name is David Kohler and this is the story of Julie Kohler, his widow, wreaking vengeance on the five men who destroyed her life. Only one of them pulled the trigger, so actually four of her victims are innocent. Sound familiar? Apparently Quentin Tarantino stole this plot for “Kill Bill”. But he’s no Francois Truffaut and the less said about Uma Thurman the better. Francois Truffaut was one of William Irish’s (aka Cornell Woolrich) greatest fans; he wrote a preface for an edition of the American writer’s short stories.

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There’s just one problem. Irish’s absolute tragic side totally eludes Truffaut. A critic wrote that this writer’s endings did not put an end to horror, they prolonged it. Nothing comes close to Irish’s universe of doom here. The glossy Hitchcockian treatment on display destroys that emotion and the “lost in advance” tone which emanated from this tormented soul. Mr Irish spent all his miserable life in a hotel room with his mother: homosexually inclined, he never found true love. He even used to dedicate some of his stories to his type writer.

I think Jeanne Moreau is the best thing since sliced bread and for me this is a classic haute couture thriller.  Her wardrobe consists of a number of sleek black and white Pierre Cardin outfits. The whole story is carried by the weight of her pouting facial expressions and sizzling charisma. But she is totally trapped inside her pain too so don’t expect many laughs. Unless you find it unintentionally funny and you won’t be the first. The sheer boldness of her character trumps the sins of the script that scream for a damn good kicking.

mataharijm3                                                          (Wrong film, but who cares?)

OK, she only has to appear and the men fall at her feet, no particular people skills or genius is displayed. I can understand how viewers go:”How the hell did she know the names and addresses of these unknown assassins when the police don’t?… how can she push a guy off a balcony and then sashay past all his party guests with no one batting an eyelid?” In other words it plays fast and loose with holes in the plot because you (the voters) will have to fill them in for yourself. This is meant to be a feast for the right brain. Not the wrong brain.

Neither deep nor logical, it glides along all fast-moving and fun. Particularly if you like to see lecherous Frenchmen get their comeuppance. “My wife doesn’t understand me” moans the tall politician, a warm up remark before trying to seduce Julie K via the promise of an umbrella. In between leering at her legs he gives her this piece of practical wisdom: ” If you don’t take care of politics then politics will take care of you.” I can’t figure that one out either but it sounds smooth. Technically The Bride Wore Black  is beautifully lensed in pastel-shades so this is worth a watch for all you cinematographers out there.

Music lovers will delight in Bernard Hermann’s suitably melodramatic score too, so there are no complaints there. It really is tragic. My favourite line is uttered by her final victim. “Do you know why the Chinese never use this finger?” the artist asks, stroking his champagne soaked digit. She shakes her head, determined to resist his oily advances. “Because it’s mine” he grins, unaware of what she has planned for him. It was a given that by the end of all this I was drenched in a whirlwind of whimsy. I need a cup of herbal tea and I need it now! Mademoiselle Moreau- we all want you old girl but emotionally you are too damned heavy.

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Comments

  1. That final victim’s line is ridiculous and hilarious all at the same time ha ha! 😀

    Like

  2. The things they laughed at in the 60’s, eh? (shaking my head) 🙂

    Like

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