Shamelessly Entertaining Neo-Noir Masterpiece
R. W. Rasband | Heber City, UT | 02/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Bride Wore Black" is another neo-noir classic from Francois Truffaut. It's adapted from the pulp novel masterpiece by Cornell Woolrich (aka William Irish.) Truffaut retains the story and the sense of doom of the book but pares down Woolrich's convoluted plot so that it is even darker. Jeanne Moreau is scary as the implacable Bride, who tracks down the five men she holds responsible for the death of her husband on their wedding day. (You can see the tremendous influence this film had on Tarantino's Kill Bill, Volume 1). This is an icy examination of the eternal war between men and women; the men are either sexual predators or spinless wimps, and the Bride is remorseless in exterminating them. The film has several setpieces that are obviously tributes to Hitchcock (like the high-rise building; and the wrongfully accused teacher.) There's even a musical score by Hitch's signature composer, Bernard Herrman. Truffaut ratchets up the tension to unbearable levels as we wait to see how the Bride will dispatch her next victim. Truffaut, the great humanist and friend of small children, occasionally peeks out, but mostly this film is a gripping ride on the dark side. It also has one of the gratest final scenes I've encountered in a movie. Just terrific."
A tribute to Hitchcock, Louise Brooks and women's legs!
LazyLegs | 01/08/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Master director Francois Truffaut and legendary actress Jeanne Moreau proves in this film a brunette can be more than a match and just as deadly as the most iciest of Hitchcock blondes, with the great Bernard Hermann delivering a turbulent, impending and breathtakingly haunting score which unfortunately is not out on soundtrack. Truffaut also pays tribute in hairstyle form to Louise Brooks, the 20's actress noted for her distinctive hairdo, which Moreau's character sports. This unforgettably haunting story full of symbolism plays out with the grand sweep and scope of almost Greek tragedy-mythic proportions, starring brunette Moreau as femme fatale extraordinaire Julie Kohler, an emotionally insulated and fascinating woman who descends upon her hapless victims like an exquisite bird of prey in larger-than-life vengeful goddess fashion (which we're not really meant to take all that seriously but is very effective)--she is at once meticulous, deliberate, detached and above all else, mesmerizing with her cold impassive beauty and emotionally/sexually untouchable aura. Her motley prey are a colorful assortment consisting of a wealthy playboy, a romantic loser, a smarmy politician, a mute gangster and a skirt-chasing artist. In highly dramatic and effective use of flashback we learn that Julie turns avenging angel when the love of her life is "assassinated" before her on the steps of a grand cathedral right after their wedding ceremony!--granted it's melodramatic and over-the-top but fits right in with the film's tragic gradeur. Throughout Moreau/Julie is dressed entirely in black and white but wears no other color--appropriate since her character sees the world now only in terms of black and white with no shades of gray, for even when learning these are not "bad" men (except perhaps the gangster) and what occurred was a purely hapless accident, there's no turning back in her unwavering resolve and vow to carry out her revenge.The most fascinating scenes involve artist Fergus (the always excellent Charles Denner) whom Julie leaves cold at first but who soon becomes enthralled by her aloofness and suppressed sexuality, and in turn she shows signs of emotional and sexual awakening with his frank but pleasant personality and under his almost lovemaking/foreplay-like touch and caressess as he poses her--not surprising since obviously no man has gotten close to or touched her since her husband's death years ago, with the strong impression that she may even be a virgin! As the audience we hope Fergus can save Julie from her personal torment so she will find the happiness she so dearly deserves, but unfortunately the tragic past, her haunted memories and steely resolve win out over this new chance at love, life and happiness. Despite the killings she commits with such calculated and efficient dispatch, Julie is a sympathetic character because she's a principled murderess--she's not willing to hurt anyone but her targets or let anybody take the fall for her actions, as the scene dealing with the politician, his son and the son's schoolteacher compellingly displays her humanity. This is a fascinating character study of a troubled and complex female obviously inspired by Hitchcock's earlier "Marnie," but in this case Truffaut goes one step further with his version of an un-savable Marnie. A comment--throughout this film (as well as some of his others) Truffaut reveals what obviously is his leg fetish, as we the audience are subjected to numerous references as well as many voyeuristic and lingering shots of Moreau's legs!"
Truffaut's Hitchcock homage is better than the real thing!
Jonathan P. Walters | 02/07/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Before buying this DVD I'd only seen the film twice before, both times on television and the last time some 13 years ago. I was pleased to fimd it had lost none of it's power to entertain.Although it was well received, particularly by the art house crowd, when it was released it is now a largely ignored film. This is a pitty as it is superbly crafted and despite a somewhat absurd plot conconcerning a widowed bride avenging the assassination of her husband it does draw the viewer into it and you cannot help but wonder how it will all be resolved.The Bride Wore Black was Francois Truffaut's second colour film and like his first, Fahrenhight 451(1966), he makes strong use of primery colours namly red, blue, white and black. In particular his decision to dress Julie Kohler(Jeanne Moreau) only in black and white is extreamely effective and each of her five victims is treated to a different creation in black or white and sometimes both; each designed to lure it's respective man to his fate. Jeanne Moreau gives an amazing performance in the title role for however alluring she appears to her victims(they all fall in love with her) her eyes are always filled with cold hatred for them. This film is, above all, a tribute to the master of suspence himself Alfred Hitchcock; Bernard Herrmann's music and the slightly cold lighting together with the restrained style of acting combine to make a French version of an unmistakeable cocktail as deadly as the poisoned Arrack Julie gives to Bliss, her second victim. But The Bride Wore Black is a lot better than the films that Hitchcock was comming out with at around the time this was made namely "Torn Curtain"(1967) and "Topaz"(1969).Although the DVD does not appear to have been digitally restored the original print from which it has been made is good and if you don't want to be distracted by subtitles you have the option to view the film with a dubbed English language soundtrack, although the American accents sound a bit strange eminating from all thoes French actors.Although to modern audiences this may apear a bit camp this is a "must have" for any lover of French New Wave Cinema."
Truffaut's homage made even Hitch proud.
infinitemovies | NY United States | 07/17/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When THE BRIDE WORE BLACK first came out to theaters Hitchcock went out to see it for himself. He had been good friends with Truffaut already for a while and Truffaut had been an admirer of his for a long time. After Hitch saw it he told Truffaut what he thought. His only thought was that in one of the murder scenes a pillow should have been put under the head of one of the men who was dying. But other than that he gave his seal of approval and so do i. This is one of the best homages to Hitchcock that i have ever seen. The story is adapted from a novel by William Irish and it is about a woman named Julie Kohler (Jeanne Moreau- Jules and Jim, Viva Maria!) who's husband is shot and killed on her wedding day. After living for a long time in deep depression she decides to track down the five men who killed her husband (accidentally) and kill them one by one. She uses her charms to get to them and soon after she kills them. The movie is not unbearably suspenseful but it is potent enough so that you wonder what will happen next. The reason for it not being so suspenseful is that you can guess more or less what will happen but what does keep it suspenseful and interesting is that we don't know how these situations will turn out. Truffaut's direction keeps the movie flowing along at a constant pace and he uses wardrobe to convey how Julie is feeling by having her wear black very often and if she does wear any other color it is only white. Jeanne Moreau gives a subtle and sympathetic performance in a role in which she could have gone over the top but wisely chose not to. We sympathize with her even as she is commiting these horrible crimes because Truffaut has us understand her pain but never fully. The psychological aspect which could have been exlpored more in this movie is never fully explored but it's not unforgiveable since the movie is not really about that. It's more about Julie's experience of trying to get her revenge. The script is solid as well and the movie is accompanied by a beautiful score by Bernard Herrmann who was Hitchcock's frequent collaborator and the score is reminiscent of Hitchcock's VERTIGO and MARNIE. This is very definatley one of the best homages to Hitchcock and also one of the best in Truffaut's legacy of films."