The French Had a Name for It 5½

A springtime crop of dark films from the City of Light.

Courtesy image

Let’s face it: The French probably also had words for the chode, precum, and the female orgasm long before anyone else did. This Gallic film-noir series has run every November since 2014, and the French probably also have a word for the math that results in this edition being numbered 5½ while this November’s edition will be called The French Had a Name for It 6.

Since being a rarity is the best, this fractional edition kicks off with a double-rarity, in that it’s by a director who’s still working: Costa-Gavras’s 1965 debut Compartiment Tueurs. That translates as The Sleeping Car Murders, a wonderfully pulpy start for the future director of Z and Missing. Another lovely rarity is the 32-minute “Retour de Jean” by future Wages of Fear director Henri-Georges Clouzot, which is excerpted from the 1949 anthology film Retour à la Vie. Speaking of early works, there’s Jean Renoir’s 1932 noir-launching La Nuit du Carrefour, itself released the same year as his better-remembered Boudu Saved from Drowning. And since we can all use more Erich von Stroheim in our lives, don’t miss Bernard-Roland’s 1949 circus-based thriller Portrait d’un Assassin­. It even features the ol’ Hun in a neck brace for probably the first time since 1932’s La Grande Illusion! Everything old is noir again.

Opens Friday at the Roxie Theater.

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