Acclaimed, but disappointing, modernized adaptation of Emile Zola’s breakthrough novel tames his ideas and takes us into James M Cain territory (LE FACTEUR TOUJOURS VISITE DEUX FOIS?). The novel’s stunning originality & power is botched/softened with the removal of premeditation from the husband’s murder and the addition of a blackmailer to nudge the plot mechanics along. Marcel Carne skips right over Zola’s acute psychology since neither the lovers’ guilt nor their growing revulsion toward each other figure in their doom. Still, on it’s own lesser terms, it’s a handsome piece of work (Roger Hubert was lenser) and very well cast. The elderly actress ‘Sylvie’ is unforgettable as the victim’s stroke-addled mother and there’s a force-field of matchless erotic chemistry surging between Simone Signoret & Raf Vallone.
NOTE: Fans of UMBERTO D should watch for a rare appearance by Maria-Pia Casilio, again playing a cute housemaid.
READ ALL ABOUT IT: While it's always worth checking out the original text, Zola's novel is a literary classic that's also an 'easy read.'