KINO LORBER BLU RAY RELEASE: The Bride Wore Black (1968)

Cornell Woodrich wrote a ton of stories that got turned into movies, like Black Alibi, which was made as The Leopard ManThe Mark of the WhistlerNight has a Thousand Eyes; The Death Stone, which was made as The Earring by Leon Klimovsky; Rear Window; Rendezvous in Black, which was made as Seven Bloodstained Orchids; The Boy Who Cried Murder, which was made as Cloak and Dagger and I’m Dangerous Tonight.

The fact that he made one of Alfred Hitchcock’s best-known movies is no accident, as director and co-writer — with Jean-Louis Richard — François Truffaut was trying to combine Hollywood with the French New Wave. He wasn’t happy with how it came out, as critics savaged it. In truth, he had daily arguments with cinematographer Raoul Coutard over how the movie would be filmed. They fought so much that many scenes ended up being directed by the star of this film, Jeanne Moreau. At the premiere, Truffaut was said to be “tormented by the contrast between the emotional notes he had intended to give the actors and the finished film.” He never called out or named Coutard as the reason why.

Julie Kohler (Moreau) tries to jump out of a window before her mother stops her. She instead goes on a long trip, but in truth, she boards a train and steps right off. She has stripped herself of her funeral black and is clad in all white when she appears again, arousing the ardor of soon-to-be married Bliss (Claude Rich) at a party on the evening before his wedding. He maneuvers her onto the balcony. She maneuvers her way into shoving him off the building.

She follows that by poisoning a lonely bachelor named Coral (Michel Bouquet) and as he dies, she reveals her identity, explaining how the love of her life was shot on the steps of the church on their wedding day. Then, she becomes a teacher, sending away the wife of the politician Morane (Michel Lonsdale), putting his son to bed and locking the man inside a hidden closet. She seals the door and he runs out of oxygen.

All of these men were members of a hunting party drunkenly playing with a rifle in a hotel room when Fergus (Charles Denner) fires it, killing her husband, an event we learn of in flashback. After posing as an artist’s model, she allows him to paint her before killing him. The last of the party is arrested and out of her reach, so she allows herself to be jailed for her crimes, only to use her wiles to find her way into his side of the prison and, yes, getting her revenge.

How Hitchcock is this? Well, in addition to the Woolrich novel, Truffaut had recently finished Hitchcock/Truffaut,  a book of interviews with the master of thrillers and even used Bernard Herrmann to write the score.

The French New Wave argued that American film lovers missed the real heroes of cinema. For example, Truffaut dedicated his first film, Breathless, not to anyone famous or well-considered. He named Monogram Pictures, the b-movie studio.

Therefore, what emerges may not be art, but it is gorgeous and it is suspenseful. And to me, it’s a successful movie.

A lot of people remark how much Kill Bill is like this, as a bride has a list that she crosses off one by one as she hunts those who killed her husband on her wedding day. Tarantino claims he never saw it before he made his movie, which could be hyperbole, but he definitely saw She Killed In Ecstasy, the Jess Franco movie that takes a lot from this.

The Bride Wore Black has been released on blu ray by Kino Lorber. It has commentary by film historians Julie Kirgo, Steven C. Smith and Nick Redman and a trailer. You can buy it from Kino Lorber.

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