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.
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
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.
A young Daniel Gélin plays
the part of Morgan's on-screen lover in one of his most poignant and memorable early screen
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
With an excellent script from Henri Jeanson, one of the greatest of French screen writers,
superlative acting and masterly direction, La Minute de vérité
an excellent example of the French quality film of the 1950s.
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