Night at the Crossroads Screen 6 articles

Night at the Crossroads

1932

Night at the Crossroads Poster
  • This expository lack fits the whole theme of the film – one which renders the last act revelations truly surprising, since we don’t know who half the characters are. Renoir uses this chaotic situation to experiment with a variety of techniques. There are deep focus shots with characters posed in background doorways in windows, winding tracking shots executed by mounting cameras onto cars, and a grand experiments in sound, in which audio acts as a kind of metronome.

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    Cahiers du cinéma: Jean-Luc Godard
    December 1957 | Godard on Godard (pp. 62-63)

    His most mysterious film. An unintentional mystery, perhaps, as Jean Mitry lost three reels after shooting was completed and the film had to be edited without them. But the rason does not alter the result. Namely: Dostoievskian characters in the décor of Une Ténébreuse Affaire. Because Simenon=Dostoievsky+Balzac, unabashed fans of Inspector Maigret will cry. Yes, I would retort, but La Nuit du carrefour proves that this equation is only valid if and because Renoir _verifies_ it.

  • The unrelenting murkiness has often been attributed to reels being lost during production, and yet is there a better way to show how the flow of human strangeness cannot be contained by the genre rules of the policier? ...A midnight chase filmed like a barreling POV tracking shot, the skulking doctor in top hat and white gloves right out of a Universal horror movie, the kind of astonishing invention that’s mistaken for clumsiness by dull-witted writers.

  • As much as Renoir offers a viscerally kinetic visual thrill, he also presents a cold small-town isolation that, for him, is both the mark and the cause of an uncivil society.

  • It resembles no other movie made before it: smoky, foggy, and visually very dark. It represents a key step between the detective film, which is supposed to be resolved logically, and the purely filmic thriller, which trades in atmosphere and seduction.

  • A beautiful time capsule of a slightly grubby, wayside corner of pre-war France, one that seems to have had a powerful impact in some Hollywood viewers, like Howard Hawks, whose The Big Sleep (1946) feels particularly under this film’s spell in parsing the harshness of the crime film through a thin veil of the otherworldly.