Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo (1967) di Georges Simenon. Scen.: Pierre Granier-Deferre, Pascal Jardin. F.: Walter Wottitz. M.: Jean Ravel. Scgf.: Jacques Saulnier. Mus.: Philippe Sarde. Int.: Jean Gabin (Julien Bouin), Simone Signoret (Clémence Bouin), Annie Cordy (Nelly), Jacques Rispal (il dottore), Florence Haguenauer (Germaine), Nicole Desailly (l’infermiera), Harry-Max (il pensionato), André Rouyer (il delegato sindacale). Prod.: Raymond Danon per Lira Films, Cinétel, Gafer Films, Compagnie Africaine Cinématographique et Commerciale, Ascot-Cineraid. 35mm. D.: 86’. Col.
Clémence and Julien have been sharing a modest, suburban house for 25 years. But they are estranged and don’t speak. Julien is a retired typesetter and the only creature he cares for is his cat. Clémence is former circus acrobat crippled by a fall. She is insanely jealous of the cat. Outside, giant and brutal housing complexes are devouring the world of detached homes which has been theirs.
The story is based on novel by Georges Simenon, which Granier-Deferre himself adapted with co-writer Pascal Jardin. It was a huge hit in 1971. Simone Signoret and Jean Gabin made a superb and savage couple. The dialogue, with its long silences, skilfully conveys their despair, as does the way in which the camera moves in to detail their mean little habits.
The truth is, as Granier-Deferre, a subtle craftsman, was to say, that those two actors only had to appear on screen and look up for the film to come to life. Their total commitment injects a dose of humanity into this tight and brutal tale. So both these great stars won Silver Bears at the Berlinale for their performances. And though Gabin had not enjoyed being on set he loved the film when he saw it, as he loved performing with ‘la môme’ Signoret. He had sworn never to shoot another love story after En cas de malheur, but he only discovered the final twist in Le Chat when he saw the finished film. Till the bitter end.