Written by: John White on April 17th, 2006
Theatrical Release Date: France, 1959
Director: Claude Chabrol
Writer: Claude Chabrol, Paul Gégauff
Cast: Madeleine Robinson, Antonella Luald, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jacques Dacqmine, Jeanne Valérie, Bernadette Lafont, André Jocelyn
DVD released: November 22nd, 2005
Approximate running time: 94 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: Not Rated
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo French
DVD Release: Kino
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.95
Warning – this review contains Spoilers
Synopsis: Henri is having an affair with his neighbour, Leda, despite his wife, Therese. Therese refuses to give him a divorce and attempts to persuade her daughter against her fiancé, Laszlo, who urges Henri to leave Therese. Whilst waiting for dinner, the maid, Julie, finds Leda has been murdered and the police are called. Has Therese dispensed with her rival and what of the couple’s children, or was it the milkman as the police believe. Laszlo decides to get the truth out.
A Double Tour was Chabrol’s first go at the genre for which he would become best known. It was Chabrol’s third film and befits one of the authors of the Nouvelle Vague with it’s breezy nature, freshness and Hollywood sense of melodrama. Like a great deal of Chabrol’s first films it was written with his friend, Paul Gegauff and two central characters, Laszlo and Henri, reflect to some degree the personalities of the wild Gegauff and the reserved Chabrol.
A Double Tour starts with outrageous flirting from Julie, the maid, and moves on to the less than happy family of Henri. Henri is stuck in a loveless marriage to his bitter, controlling wife. She in turn tries to control everyone else’s lives from her daughter to her flirty maid. The daughter is enamored with Laszlo but unwilling to throw off her mother’s hate for him, and the son, Richard, is a peeping tom who like his mother a little too much.
The catalyst for the change in this family is the immigrant, Laszlo, who is impulsively truthful and not inhibited by social niceties. Laszlo insists that Henri leaves Therese and tries to convince her children that Therese is “easy to hate”. He stuffs his face with their food and even invites a friend. He is Therese’s worst nightmare as a son in law.
The warm idyllic setting of A Double Tour points up this conflict between the unhappy wealthy family and the young at heart characters of Laszlo, Leda and Julie. The resolutely formal Richard is a wonderful example of uptight madness. He spies on the maid but runs to his room to make it look like he has been there all the time. When he is revealed as the murderer, he decides to go to the police as it is the right thing to do and will protect his family.
A Double Tour is an excellent place to start with Chabrol’s films marking as it does his New Wave roots and the later direction of his bourgeois thrillers. It is not as excellent as the later films as it relies on the loathsomeness of Therese too strongly where a later Chabrol would have made her more understandable and Henri less heroic. Still this is a deep, sexy character study with Belmondo in fine form.
Given the awful treatment Chabrol’s films have had on R1 DVD, this Kino release is a welcome addition. The colors of this anamorphic transfer are rich and the print has good contrast. Overall it is very sharp and it is a pity that there are so many examples of combing throughout (look at the keyhole above). Still for a film which is nearly 50 years old, this is jolly good. The audio is fine with odd noises but the music and voices are represented well. The removable English subs are very good.
The disc comes with a theatrical trailer and filmography but that is all.
There is a Japanese disc of this movie which doesn’t carry English options, but no other English releases I am aware of. This is a reasonable print and combing aside probably a safe purchase for fans of Chabrol or the Nouvelle Vague.