L'Alibi (1937)

aka: The Alibi
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

Film poster
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.


The director Pierre Chenal also worked with the actor Erich von Stroheim on the film La Foire aux chimères (1946).

Film Credits

Related articles

2015 film releases

Read more about the French films to be released in 2015...

The Silent Era

Before the advent of sound France was a world leader in cinema. Find out more about this overlooked era.

The Golden Age

Discover the best French films of the 1930s, a decade of cinematic delights...

The Occupation Era

Even in the dark days of the Occupation, French cinema continued to impress with its artistry and diversity.

The New Wave

A wave of fresh talent in the late 1950s, early 1960s brought about a dramatic renaissance in French cinema, placing the auteur at the core of France's 7th art.