T. it.: Il delitto della villa. Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo di Georges Simenon. Scen.: Pierre Calmann, Louis Delaprée, Julien Duvivier. F.: Armand Thirard. Mo.: Marthe Poncin. Su.: Marcel Courmes. Mu.: Jacques Dallin. Int.: Harry Baur (il commissario Maigret), Valéry Inkijinoff (Radek), Alexandre Rignault (Joseph Heurtin), Gaston Jacquet (Willy Ferrière), Louis Gauthier (il giudice), Henri Échourin (ispettore Ménard), Marcel Bourdel (ispettore Janvier), Gina Manes (Edna Reichberg). Frédéric Munié (l’avvocato), Armand Numès (direttore della polizia). Prod.: Les Films Marcel Vandal et Charles Delac. Pri. pro.: 18 febbraio 1933 35mm. D.: 98’.
Georges Simenon was disappointed by the first films based on his novels, La Nuit du carrefour (1932) by Jean Renoir (now considered a masterpiece) and Le Chien jaune (1932) by Jean Tarride. As a result, he decided to write the adaptation for and even direct himself the film version of La Tête d’un homme (published in 1931). As actors, he chose Pierre Renoir (who had played Renoir’s Maigret) and Valéry Inkijinoff, a Russian actor recently emigrated to France. After a financial mishap, Simenon backed away from the project, and the producers proposed it to Julien Duvivier who tapped Inkijinoff for the role of Radek. For the role of the detective he insisted on Harry Baur, whom he had already directed in David Golder (1931), Les Cinq gentleman maudits (1931) and Poil de carotte (1932). Chronicling a police investigation, the novel depicts a duel between two opposing characters: the diabolical Radek, a Czech immigrant student, mastermind of the ‘perfect murder’ for a third party, who has an incurable disease and wants to subvert the law, and Maigret. Radek’s misanthropy and cynicism provided the ideal raw material for Duvivier’s noir inspiration. He drastically modified the story’s structure to focus on its psychological elements and mood, intentionally emphasizing Dostoevskian references. “The starting point of this novel worried me. In Simeon’s book, a policeman allows a death row inmate to escape. […] Obviously in a novel the author can create implausible situations, but in film the director is bound by some norms and conventions. I thought it would be risky to base an entire drama on such a debatable basis. So I posed the scenario to the authorities, who demonstrated to me how such a plan would be, frankly, impossible to carry out. In order to work, it would require that the perpetrator corrupt around thirty officials who are, as is widely known, completely incorruptible”. (“Cinémonde”, n. 225, February 9, 1933). Duvivier chose to reveal to the public both the killer and the person who ordered the hit in the beginning, shifting the dramatic focus to the verbal jousting between Radek and Maigret and to their respective disenchantments that square off in an oppressive and corrupt environment. This climate is exacerbated by the claustrophobic and occasional expressionist camera takes, often close-ups of the faces and expressions of characters. The use of sound is particularly original, especially in the sequence when the falsely accused man is grilled during a car ride and the audience never sees the characters who are speaking, but only the scenery unfolding around them. The words of the song Complainte were written by Duvivier himself.