THE DEVILS ENVOYS
(Les Visiteurs du Soir)
The story borrows an undeniable leaf from Faust. The films juggling of virtue, pure-hearted innocence, betrayal, diabolic traps that force innocents into soul-selling sacrifices for their lovers, and, most importantly, love that is seen as a pure force above all else, has a wonderful classical splendour to it. When it comes to magic, director Marcel Carne emphasises a cinematic simplicity in stop-frame, he makes a homely woman look beautiful; he freezes a line of dancers and allows people to step outside time; and has The Devil, with a series clever camera set-ups, able to appear in several places at once and as a result achieves a magic that many films with vast and more elaborate special effects do not.
The cast all give fine performances. Alain Cuny has a wonderfully chiseled handsomeness but is more animated than one might think and turns the perfection of his features towards pained outpourings of love in fact, he seems so pure it is hard to imagine him capable of being the diabolical wooer of hearts the script paints him as. He is well paired up against the elegantly aloof Arletty.
Director Marcel Carne was probably best known for the much celebrated classic Les Enfants du Paradis (1945). Carne later returned to fantasy cinema with the H.G. Wells adaptation La Merveilleuse Visite/The Marvellous Visit (1975) about the appearance of an enigmatic angel.
Trailer here (French language only):-