ChiaroScuro presents

Les Diaboliques

(Diabolique | Die Teuflischen)

by Henri-Georges Clouzot

France 1955

(click to enlarge)

Henri-Georges Clouzot
Henri-Georges Clouzot
Executive Producer:
Louis de Masure
Production Companies:
Filmsonor, Vera Films
Henri-Georges Clouzot, Jérôme Géronimi, René Masson, Frédéric Grendel (from the novel Celle qui n’était pas by Pierre Boileau, Thomas Narcejac)
Armand Thirard (b/w, 35mm spherical, 1.37:1)
Madeleine Gug
Music Score:
Georges Van Parys
Art Director:
Léon Barsacq
William Robert Sivel (Mono)
Simone Signoret (Nicole), Véra Clouzot (Christine Delasalle), Paul Meurisse (Michel Delasalle), Charles Vanel (commissaire Fichet), Pierre Larquey (Drain), Michel Serrault (Raymond), Jacques Hilling, Henri Humbert (Patard), Thérèse Dorny (Mme. Herboux), Johnny Hallyday (Pupil, uncredited)
116 min (restored version)
USA 107 min, UK 92 min, Germany 110 min
29 January 1955 (Paris, France)
Edgar Allan Poe Awards 1956, Special Edgar Best Foreign Film: Henri-Georges Clouzot
New York Film Critics Circle 1955 NYFCC Award Best Foreign Language Film: Henri-Georges Clouzot
, tied with Umberto D.
Prix Louis Delluc 1954: Henri-Georges Clouzot

"The greatest film that Alfred Hitchcock never made. ... Typical of many French films of the 1950s, Clouzot's style was influenced by American film noir; unlike the French New Wave films which followed it, Diabolique also revealed the German expressionist roots of noir."
All-Movie Guide

"Clouzot does it, all right; his Grand Guignol techniques are so calculatedly grisly that they seem silly, yet they succeed in making one feel queasy and sordid and scared."
— Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies

"... prior to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, Clouzot’s eerie masterwork was considered the most frightening and artistic horror picture ever made. In fact, just as Hitchcock was a major influence on France’s master of suspense, Hitchcock admitted an equal debt to Clouzot, and not just because they had similar disrespect for actors (whereas Hitchcock called them 'cattle,' martinet Clouzot called them 'instruments'). Not only can we see traces of Psycho throughout Diabolique—note the many similar plot elements and story twists, suspense devices, shocks, quirky characters, and morbid humor—but Hitchcock even borrowed Clouzot’s successful ploy of insisting no one be admitted to theaters once the film began. ... As always, his film is strongly acted, strikingly paced for tension and suspense, and exhibits a perverse nastiness of character and environment that is oppressive and unsettling. It is a film where the heroine—the nicest person in the story—plans a cold-blooded murder; an entire scene at the school centers around the serving and eating of spoiled fish (rumor has it that the director actually made his actors eat the fish so they’d better understand the nature of the school and the characters); the dilapidated school, rowdy boys, and terrible teachers are a matched set; and where water, a symbol of purity and birth/life, is equated with death (as in Psycho). Diabolique is most definitely the work of an angry artist who spent several years of his adult life in sanitariums recovering from his illness but not his cynicism."
Danny Peary

"... the suspense that has been built up is dissipated in a virtuoso display of plot-twisting, which leaves the audience reeling, but destroys the credibility of all that has gone before."
— Roy Armes, French Cinema

"On a voulu voir longtemps dans Les Diaboliques, que les scènes d'horreur, l'orchestration de la peur par une mise en scène 'coup de poing'. Mais il y a aussi le réalisme psychologique noir, qui, dès Le Corbeau, fut un signe distinctif du cinéaste, de sa misanthropie, de ses doutes sur la nature humaine et de son gout des situations troubles."
— Jacques Siclier

Film Reviews | DVD Reviews

Criterion NTSC Region 1 vs. TF1 Vidéo PAL Region 2

R1 screenshots courtesy by Gary Tooze /

The Criterion Collection #35
Region 1 (USA - North America)
TF1 Vidéo / René Chateau Vidéo
Region 2 (France - EU)
116:12 min 111:54 min (PAL Speedup+4% = 116 min)
1.32:1/4:3 FullScreen
Average Bitrate: 5.70 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
1.33:1/4:3 Fullscreen
Average Bitrate: ? mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
Français Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono Français Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
English (removable) Français (removable captions)
• Color Bars • Theatrical Trailer (1:35 min)
• Anecdotes, affiches et critiques
• Filmographies
• Weblink
DVD Release Date: 26 January 1999
Keep Case
Chapters: 15
DVD Encoding: NTSC Region 1
DVD Release Date: 19 April 2000
Keep Case
Chapters: 12
DVD Encoding: PAL Region 2
SS-SL/DVD-5 (3.88 GB/film, 4.27 GB/disc)

Both are very satisfying, clean transfers. Criterion shows less edge enhancement and overall a slightly better definition, but TV1 Vidéo has a fuller greyscale range

Also available in the UK:

Video: 1.33:1/4:3 • Sound: Français DD 1.0 Mono • Subtitles: English • Features: Stills gallery. Poster gallery. Cast and crew biographies. Original theatrical trailer. Original theatrical trailer for The Wages Of Fear

Frame 1: Menu
(Criterion left, TV1 Vidéo right)

Frame 2
(Criterion left, TV1 Vidéo right)

Original NTSC 720x480 vs. PAL 720x576 frame size (detail):
The NTSC Criterion transfer is sharper, there is less halo from edge enhancement and a better definition

Frame 3
(Criterion left, TV1 Vidéo right)

On this frame, better sharpness and a higher definition are on the TV1 Vidéo transfer

Frame 4
(Criterion left, TV1 Vidéo right)

Frame 5
(Criterion left, TV1 Vidéo right)

Frame 6
(Criterion left, TV1 Vidéo right)

Original NTSC 720x480 vs. PAL 720x576 frame size (detail):
The NTSC Criterion transfer is sharper, there is less halo from edge enhancement and a better definition

Average Bitrate Criterion:
5.70 mb/s

Average Bitrate TV Vidéo 1:

No Bitrate Chart available

The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes

Disclaimer by

This is a strictly non-professional and non-commercial DVD review. Don't expect industry reference work!

All ChiaroScuro captures are taken under MacOS X.2 using VideoLAN and Snapz ProX. For further methodological remarks see DVDBeaver (click on "Methodology"): "We are not a lab and are doing a good a job as our time and energy permits. Thank you for understanding."

dvdbeaver | chiaroscuro

26 Sep 2002 | Last update: 23 Apr 2003