Le Corbeau

Le Corbeau (1943) or The Raven* is solid thriller made during the Occupation of France. When a small town is inundated with poison-pen letters sign Le Corbeau, the local Dr. Rémy Germain is especially affected. He's accused of being an abortionist and womanizer. He's not the only one, however, and many of the town's residents are slandered. The rest of the film is spent figuring out who's writing the letters and dealing with whether the accusations are true or not.

More than anything it's an interesting case study in how a town deals with an unknown terror. One of the letters cause a suicide, bringing the town to a mob mentality accuses a woman who is known for her judgmental attitude. Several people are accused throughout, and trust is given and taken away frequently between characters. The doctor's relationship with two of the women in town, a married woman with whom he has a strictly friends-only relationship and a known loose woman who overcompensates a gimp leg with sex, causes more poison-pen letters. Rémy, while only one in the ensemble cast, is the lead in the film and we see him deal with the accusations. It's an interesting performance by Pierre Fresnay because the doctor is kind of distant, but manages to attract attention to himself. The letters finally allow him to explain more about himself, Fresnay gives him depth even before we know about his past.

This is a solid film, interesting for its context. A few of the characters flaunt their diabilities in the face of the eugenics-happy German occupation. It's a subtly subersive film for the time and overall, a good watch.

*No, not that one.

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