The terminally ill Count Herve de Kerloquen has vanished. Although he is almost certainly dead, his disgruntled heirs are told that – without his body – they must wait for five years before they can receive their inheritance. In the meantime, they have to find an ingenious way to keep the Count’s vast chateau running. They cannot sell the chateau, or any of its contents, so they attempt to overcome their differences by drawing upon the chateau’s tragic medieval past, transforming the gothic pile into an elaborate son et lumiere tourist attraction. All seems to be going well until, one by one, the heirs begin to die. Are their deaths really accidents, or is there a cunning assassin in their midst, stalking them through the chateau’s labyrinth of claustrophobic passageways and secret rooms? And, before they are all killed, can the son et lumiere cast its spotlight on a murderer?
Spotlight on a Murderer is one of French cinema’s hidden gems. It was Georges Franju’s third feature (Franju is probably best known for the superb thriller Eyes Without A Face) and its playful screenplay was written by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac, who also scribed the classic Les Diaboliques and Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Vertigo. Fans of those films will find much to admire in this little-known movie, which really exploits the connection between detective noir and the gothic novel and combines some terrific characters with a fantastic central premise. So what if it all feels like a gallic re-tread of Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians / And Then There Were None? It is executed with such joyful panache that textual similarities to other books and films are quickly forgotten. The performances are all first-rate, the cinematography (courtesy of Marcel Fradetal) is exquisite and looks wonderful in this pin-sharp blu ray release, and there’s even a fun Maurice Jarre score to keep everything bouncing along. This is a classic suspenser that is all about the journey rather than the destination, and the journey is delightful.
The special features on this disc are minimal – just a trailer and an on-set production featurette – but the featurette is pretty special, as bright and breezy as the main attraction. Just check out the hosts flirty interviewing technique – they don’t make EPK’s like that anymore! This is a terrific offering from Arrow Academy - c’est magnifique!
SPOTLIGHT ON A MURDERER (1961) / CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: GEORGES FRANJU / SCREENPLAY: PIERRE BOILEAU, THOMAS NARCEJAC / STARRING: PIERRE BRASSEUR, PASCALE AUDRET, MARIANNE KOCH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW