Les Diaboliques (French pronunciation: [le djabɔlik], The Devils), also known as The Fiends or Diabolique, is a 1955 black and white French suspense film directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot, starring Simone Signoret, Véra Clouzot and Paul Meurisse. It was based on the novel Celle qui n'était plus (She Who Was No More) by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac. The story blends elements of thriller and horror, with the plot focusing on a woman and her husband's mistress who conspire to murder the man; after the crime is committed, however, his body disappears, and a number of strange occurrences ensue.
Clouzot, right after finishing Wages of Fear snatched the screenplay rights from master of suspense director, Alfred Hitchcock. This movie helped inspire Hitchcock's Psycho. Robert Bloch himself, the author of novel Psycho, has stated in an interview that his all-time favorite horror film is Diaboliques.
Now considered a classic of the horror genre and film in general, Les Diaboliques ranked #49 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments.
The story takes place in a second-rate boarding school run by the tyrannical and mean Michel Delassalle (Meurisse). The school, though, is owned by Delassalle's teacher wife, the frail Christina (Clouzot), and Delassalle flaunts his relationship with Nicole Horner (Signoret), a teacher at the school. Rather than antagonism, the two women are shown to have a somewhat close relationship, primarily based on their apparent mutual hatred of Michel, who is physically and emotionally abusive to both.
Unable to stand his mistreatment any longer, Nicole devises a plan. Though hesitant at first, Christina ultimately consents to help Nicole. Using a threatened divorce to lure Michel to Nicole's apartment building in a remote village several hundred kilometers away, Christina sedates him. The two women then drown him in a bathtub and dump his body in the school's neglected swimming pool. When his corpse floats to the surface, they think it will appear to have been an accident. Almost everything goes according to their plans until the body fails to surface, and Michel's corpse is nowhere to be found when the pool is drained.
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