Roland Brissot bought for a nickel a talisman that gives him love, fame and wealth. The talisman is a cut left hand, and it works perfectly. But of course there is nothing free in this ...
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An accomplished painter rents a dilapidated villa in the country, and soon finds himself absorbed in the property's history, particularly the murder of a sex-obsessed countess who died there decades prior.
In a moment of madness a respectable pharmacist kills a young woman who is sun-bathing by a lake. Unable to take in what he has done, he flees from the scene of the crime and behaves as if nothing has happened.
Roland Brissot bought for a nickel a talisman that gives him love, fame and wealth. The talisman is a cut left hand, and it works perfectly. But of course there is nothing free in this world, and after one year the devil comes and asks for his due...Written by
Painter Pierre Fresnay (Brissot) arrives at a secluded mountainside hotel that has been cut off by an avalanche. He carries a box with him and has a rather unpleasant attitude which alienates him from the other guests there. The police may or may not be on his tail as they arrive to ask about a man they have been chasing. When his box is stolen by supernatural forces, he decides it is best to come clean and tell his tale. We are then thrown into a flashback story that explains his life and how he came to have this box, and what its significance is as well as what is inside. It's a story of selling your soul to the devil and things come to an end at this mountainside hotel.
It's a good film that keeps you gripped. Fresnay is thoroughly dislikable at the beginning of the film but due to his predicament he wins you over and you understand why he is this way. A small man in a bowler hat, Palau, seems to follow him around. His appearances keep the tension going as he can change fortune but not necessarily in a good way. Fresnay has this box that gives him instant success, wealth, love, etc but it comes at a cost. His love interest is Josseline Gael (Irene) who is pretty straight-talking and whose behaviour also seems influenced by whether or not Fresnay has the box. Her real life story is interesting as she was married to a member of the French Gestapo and was jailed the following year to this film being made. She was subsequently stripped of her French citizenship whilst her husband was executed by a firing squad in 1946.
An annoyance at the beginning of the film is that everyone speaks too quickly so that you just about have time to read the subtitles let alone look at the picture of the actor's faces speaking the lines at the same time. It can be frustrating. You need to accustom yourself to this and then things get OK. The plot's theme is interesting and there are good sequences including a line-up of masked men, all previous owners of the box, who have a brief tale to tell. Fresnay's ability comes from painting with his left hand and he signs his name as Maximus Leo. Is this name significant? Yes it is.
What would you do if your debt kept doubling everyday and the debtor required payback? Easy, go to the bank and get a loan. Not sure why Fresnay didn't do that. But, then again, the devil doesn't play fair, so would probably conjure up a bank shortfall on that day. Maybe the best thing is to just enjoy the success you've got while it lasts. Fresnay fights back.
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