La Minute de vérité (1952)

aka: The Moment of Truth
Drama / Romance


La Minute de vérité photo
On the evening of his wedding anniversary, a respectable doctor, Pierre Richard, is called away to attend to a suicide victim. On the bedside table of the man who has attempted to kill himself, Pierre is surprised to see a photograph of his wife, the beautiful actress Madeleine Richard. Returning home, he confronts his wife, and demands an explanation. A traumatised Madeleine reveals that for the last few years she has been having an affair with a young artist, Daniel...
© 2012

Film Review

In French cinema, the 1950s was predominantly the decade of the crime thriller, originating from the popularity of the imported American film noir of the 1930s and 1940s. Not only is this apparent in the sheer volume of detective and gangster films which were made during this period, but it also had an indirect effect on more traditional non-crime related films. La Minute de vérité is a good example of this.
Bio pic 1
This film could have been made as a conventional romantic drama, and it would probably have been successful as such. However, instead, it adopts that classic device of the psychological thriller, the flashback, to inject a startling dose of suspense and drama into the familiar tale of passion and marital infidelity. The result is one of the most memorable and compelling French romance dramas of the 1950s.

The film's stars are Jean Gabin and Michèle Morgan, who first appeared together in Marcel Carné's classic 1938 film, Le Quai des brumes. Fourteen years on, the two actors form an equally captivating couple (with Morgan scarcely seemed to have aged at all). Gabin is no longer the young romantic hero of the 1930s, but his performance as the apparently respectable house doctor and cheated husband is solid and occasionally intensely poignant. Needless to say, Morgan is perfectly cast as the vulnerable femme fatale torn between the two men she loves, displaying an exceptional sensitivity in virtually every scene she appears in.
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A young Daniel Gélin plays the part of Morgan's on-screen lover in one of his most poignant and memorable early screen roles.

Although Jean Delannoy's later films in the same decade showed a marked deterioration in quality (making him easy prey for the New Wave critics such as Truffaut and Godard), the director is at his best in this film. Not only is the film perfectly constructed, using the flashback idea to great effect, but it achieves just the right balance of studio and location filming, giving the film a sense of realism which gives it a feeling of immediacy and modernity.

With an excellent script from Henri Jeanson, one of the greatest of French screen writers, superlative acting and masterly direction, La Minute de vérité is an excellent example of the French quality film of the 1950s.
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The director Jean Delannoy also worked with the actor Michèle Morgan on the films La Symphonie pastorale (1946), Aux yeux du souvenir (1948), Destinées (1954) and Obsession (1954).

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