Friday, July 12, 2013

The Bride Wore Black

One of the François Truffaut movies that I was really excited to see on the TCM schedule for this month's Friday Night Spotlight is The Bride Wore Black. It's airing tonight at 8:00 PM, and is well worth a viewing.

The Bride Wore Black is a movie that is a bit difficult to describe in detail without giving away serious plot spoilers, so more than other posts there's going to be a spoiler, but not one that gives away the ending. Jeanne Moreau stars as Julie Kohler. We see her at the beginning in what is presumably her bedroom in her apartment telling her mother that she doesn't want to go on living and intends to commit suicide. Now, Truffaut could have had her commit suicide and then had the rest of the movie be a flashback as to what she did that caused her to want to end her life. But Truffaut here opts for a more linear story without your typical overused plot device. Julie doesn't kill herself, but goes to one of the seaside cities in the south of France, where she makes her way to a man's apartment. Nobody there knows her, but she invites herself to a party the man is holding. During that party, she talks to him out on the balcony, and "innocently" drops a scarf on the awning pole. When the man tries to fetch the scarf for her, she pushes him to his death!

Cut to one of those stereotypical French small towns. Julie is looking for another man, and as you might be able to guess, she intends to kill this guy too. It doesn't take her too long for her to figure out a way into the guy's apartment, and when she does, she spikes his wine with poison, which he duly drinks, dropping dead as a result. She, of course, doesn't drink the wine; she's got more people to murder.

Why is she murdering strangers? It's only after the second murder that we're let in on that bit of the mystery, which you'll have to highlight if you want to see: Julie was to be married, but a group of five men with a gun in a bell-tower accidentally shot the gun, and that gun killed Julie's husband as he was exiting the church after the wedding. Julie plans to kill all five of those men, so there are three more to come. Now, there's a bit of a plot hole in that the first two men are supposed to be strangers to Julie. How could she have discovered their identities, especially based on what happened? It's been quite a while since I've seen the movie, but you'd think there would be more police involvement here. But, that's a minor flaw. The Bride Wore Black is really about the journey, and whether Julie is going to reach the planned end-point of that journey successfully.

Truffaut wrote the screenplay to The Bride Wore Black from a story by Cornel Woolrich, whom we last saw in Eddie Muller's Friday Night Spotlight series on noir writers last month. Also, the movie was conceived as an homage to Alfred Hitchcock; there certainly is suspense -- especially once we learn Julie's motive -- as to whether she'll succeed. And there is also some very dark humor with a couple of plot twists. If there's any problem with the movie, it's that there's a victim whose sequence goes on a bit too long. Overall, though, the film is well made, and gripping right up until the finale.

I'm not certain if The Bride Wore Black is officially available on DVD here in North America. It's a movie that really needs an official DVD release.

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