L'Alibi (1937)
aka: The Alibi
A film directed by Pierre Chenal

Genre: Crime / Thriller / Drama


L'Alibi photo
Whilst performing his famous mind-reading act at a Parisian nightclub, Professor Winckler recognises his most hated enemy in the audience. After the show, he pursues the man, an American gangster named Gordon, and shoots him dead. He then bribes Hélène, a young woman who works in the nightclub, to give him an alibi for the killing. Certain of Winckler's guilt, Commissioner Calas contrives a scheme to destroy his alibi. Suspicion is thrown on a young man André Laurent who has succeeded in winning Hélène's affection. How will Hélène react when she realises Laurent is in fact Calas's colleague?
© filmsdefrance.com 2012

Film Review

L'Alibi is one of two very popular film noir thrillers made by the French film director Pierre Chenal in the 1930s. The other, Le Dernier tournant (1939), was the first film adaptation of the novel The Postman Always Rings Twice. From a stylistic point of view, both films are rather good examples of early film noir. Deep focus, high contrast black-and-white photography, confined shadowy sets - all the familiar noir techniques are used to create a sense of mystery, menace and mayhem.

Where L'Alibi falls down is its weak script. The characters are simplistic caricatures, and the plot lacks originality and depth. The silly happy ending tagged on at the end of the film jars painfully with the sombre mood which preceded it. On the plus side, there is a great cast which includes some of the most celebrated screen actors of the 1930s - Louis Jouvet, Erich von Stroheim, Albert Préjean and Jany Holt. Jouvet is particularly memorable as a tenacious cop who seems prepared to sacrifice any principles to get his man - the kind of dark, morally ambiguous role which the actor plays so well.
The above article was written for filmsdefrance.com and should not be reproduced in any medium without the author's permission.

Where to watch this film

The film L'Alibi may be available on amazon via the following links:
  • amazon.co.uk
  • amazon.fr
  • amazon.com

Similar films you may like

Best of 0
Best of 0
Best of 0
Best of 0

Film Credits

  • Director: Pierre Chenal
  • Script: Marcel Achard (story), Jacques Companéez, Herbert Juttke, Pierre Chenal
  • Photo: Theodore J. Pahle
  • Music: Georges Auric, Jacques Belasco
  • Cast: Erich von Stroheim (Le professeur Winckler), Albert Préjean (André Laurent), Jany Holt (Hélène Ardouin), Louis Jouvet (Le commissaire Calas), Véra Flory (Une entraîneuse), Foun-Sen (L'assistante de Winckler), Génia Vaury (Une entraîneuse), Made Siamé (La secrétaire de Calas), Roger Blin (Kretz), Philippe Richard (John Gordon), Jean Témerson (Jojo, l'ami de Dany), Maurice Baquet (Gérard), Pierre Labry (Le premier inspecteur), Max Dalban (Le second inspecteur), Florence Marly (La maitresse de Gordon), Margo Lion (Dany), Bobby Martin (Le chef d'orchestre de jazz), Thelma Minor (La chanteuse de l'orchestre), Jacques Beauvais (Le maître d'hôtel), Albert Brouett (L'huissier), Paul Delauzac (L'avocat), Fernand Flament (Un inspecteur), Henry Houry (L'Américain), Paul Marthès (Le gros dandy), Laura Marvel (La danseuse)
  • Country: France
  • Language: French
  • Support: Black and White
  • Runtime: 84 min
  • Aka: The Alibi

Related Links

Here are some other pages that you may find helpful:
Buy/watch this movie:
Discover the best in French cinema:
Explore best French films by genre:

Classic films to rediscover

Best of 0
Best of 0
Best of 0
Best of 0

For books and DVDs

Visit our on-line stores to browse the latest films out on DVD and books relating to cinema. Any purchases will allow us to maintain and grow filmsdefrance.com.

Increase your knowledge of French cinema

Best of 0
Best of 1
Best of 2
Best of 3