Siren Song – Ladies of Film Noir, Part 5: Suzy Delair in Quai des Orfèvres (1947)

French director Henri-Georges Clouzot is best remembered for his thrillers The Wages of Fear (1953) and Diabolique (1955), but perhaps my favorite film of his is the crime drama Quai des Orfèvres (1947), made during the height of the film noir craze in the United States and bearing some of the same trademarks of the genre: murder, jealous lovers, a detective (played in this film by the excellent Louis Jouvet) who will stop at nothing to find a killer, and of course, an attractive woman singing in a nightclub or a similar type of establishment. Singer and actress Suzy Delair, who was Clouzot’s girlfriend at the time (and she is still alive today at age 97!), plays music-hall performer “Jenny Lamour,” who sings the enticing melody “Danse avec moi” to a captive audience. Armand Thirard’s cinematography adds immeasurably to the atmosphere of the scene, most impressively in the scene’s penultimate shot, a spotlight closing in on Delair until only her oscillating lips are illuminated. Thirard was among the most talented and hardest-working cinematographers in French cinema, having worked on the aforementioned Clouzot thrillers in the 50s, another Clouzot film starring Delair called The Murderer Lives at Number 21 (1942) and other assorted titles like Mayerling (1936), Hôtel du Nord (1938), The Sheep Has Five Legs (1954), …And God Created Woman (1956) and the Ingrid Bergman-starring Hollywood production Goodbye Again (1961). Also worth noting: the fellow seated at the piano in the “Danse avec moi” scene is Bernard Blier, father of the director Bertrand Blier (Get Out Your Handkerchiefs, Beau Père, Too Beautiful for You).

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