Les Loups chassent la nuit (1952)
aka: Wolves Hunt at Night
A film directed by Bernard Borderie

Genre: Romance / Drama / Thriller

Review published:


Les Loups chassent la nuit photo
Thomas Mollert. the head of a counter-espionage network, meets up with one of his agents, Cyril, in Trieste, to instruct him on his next assignment. As he embarks on his mission to unmask a spy named Miguel, Cyril strikes up an acquaintance with an attractive young woman, Catherine, in a bar. The latter will prove invaluable in protecting Cyril from his dangerous adversaries and ensuring his mission is a success...
© filmsdefrance.com 2015

Film Review

With its picturesque Italian locations and impeccably dressed, womanising secret agent, Les Loups chassent la nuit (a.k.a. La ragazza di Trieste) feels like an early attempt at a James Bond movie, although it would be a full decade being Ian Fleming's famous spy would be launched on the big screen. The plot bears some resemblance to Hitchcock's Notorious (1946) but in fact it is taken from Pierre Frondaie's novel Le Lieutenant de Gibraltar. Unusually for a spy thriller of this era, the film is concerned more with character than with plot, with most of the focus being directed towards the central romance involving the two main characters - a French spy and his sensual Italian lover. To coin a phrase, the thriller intrigue looks as if it is just one big MacGuffin, hastily dispensed with right at the end of the film. Hitchcock would have been gratified.

The role of the proto-Bond lead agent went to Jean-Pierre Aumont, striving to regain his popularity in France after his decade in Hollywood. Here, Aumont is handsomely partnered by Italian beauty Carla Del Poggio, who had previously distinguished herself in some notable Italian films, including Vittorio De Sica's Un garibaldino al convento (1942). Fernand Ledoux is a curious choice for the role of Aumont's spymaster - he looks like a cross between a Graham Greene character and a Bond villain, as he keeps cropping up expectedly in a Panama hat with a cat under his arm. Marcel Herrand crops up in one of his last roles before his untimely death and Louis de Funès makes a fleeting appearance in an uncredited role as a barman.

In this, his debut feature, Bernard Borderie already shows a knack of delivering a crowdpleaser with a quality feel - something that would set up him apart from other French mainstream filmmakers for most of his career. It would be going too far to describe Borderie as an auteur, but his films, which spanned a wide range of popular genres, had a distinctive character and represent some of the best in mainstream cinema for their time. After Les Loups chassent la nuit, Borderie would have his first major success with La Môme vert-de-gris (1953), the first of the hugely popular Lemmy Caution films. He would then routinely turn out American-style thrillers for the next decade, before having his biggest hit with the Angélique films of the mid-1960s.

© James Travers 2015

The above article was written for filmsdefrance.com and should not be reproduced in any medium without the author's permission.

Other recommended drama films of the 1950s from France that you may want to consider are: Jules Dassin's Du rififi chez les hommes (1955), Julien Duvivier's Marianne de ma jeunesse (1955), Robert Bresson's Pickpocket (1959), Paul Carpita's Le Rendez-vous des quais (1955) and Anatole Litvak's Un acte d'amour (1953).

Where to watch this film

The film Les Loups chassent la nuit may be available on amazon via the following links:
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Film Credits

  • Director: Bernard Borderie
  • Script: Bernard Borderie, Francis Thuret, Pierre Frondaie (novel)
  • Photo: Jacques Lemare
  • Music: Joseph Kosma
  • Cast: Jean-Pierre Aumont (Cyril), Carla Del Poggio (Catherine), Fernand Ledoux (Thomas Mollert), Marcel Herrand (Pedro), John Kitzmiller (Le domestique noir de Miguel), Roldano Lupi (Miguel), Nicolas Vogel (Jim), Attilio Dottesio (Baum alias Horner), Gianni Rizzo (Le commissaire italien), Sophie Sel (Une employée de l'hôtel), Louis de Funès (Le barman qui sert un Porto), Tancredi (Un chauffeur)
  • Country: France / Italy
  • Language: French
  • Support: Black and White
  • Runtime: 92 min
  • Aka: Wolves Hunt at Night

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