Hitchcock, one of the most famous British expatriates in the cinema industry, came back for one film in England, in London very exactly and he demonstrated in the early 70s he was able to build a cool thriller, in the traditional English style and rhythm and make it fascinating. The case is of course so quaint, so passé and he enjoys making thinks look the way they looked not in the 70s but in the 60s. He concentrates the film on Covent Garden when it was still a fruit and vegetable market, on their pubs, their dealers, their night life and their busy running hectic at times life. Today all that has disappeared and you can find the London Transport Museum where you used to have banana and orange wholesale dealers. Then he worked hard on finding the particular ways Londoners lived at that time, just after coal was banned around 1962. And of course his killer is well integrated in this extremely regular disorganized precipitation. The fashion is just right, the home furniture and various small equipment are just right, authentic, and yet the sarcastic eye of Alfred Hitchcock cannot forget to show the flaws and the drawbacks of this life that is slowly opening up to continental Europe and the whole world. The gourmet classes for housewives teaching them all kinds of French recipes that are of course deliciously failed by these amateurs while the good old bacon and eggs are getting out of fashion. But then we are in pure Hitchcockian fiction. A serial killer who strangles his victims with his ties and then dispose of them, both the victims and the ties together. An imbroglio that makes a friend of that killer be suspected and then, with a little of effort from the killer, that suspected person becomes the convicted killer who is no killer at all. He escapes the prison in the simplest British way you can imagine: he gets himself hospitalized so that he can go and have his vengeance on his friend who had had him arrested. And there the surprise will be total. Fiction again that shows a policeman who gets someone convicted for a serious crime and yet doubts his own conclusion and starts asking some more questions. Why did he not do it before? And he could have listened to his wife who, between serving pig trotters cooked with grapes or some partridges or pigeons cooked with cherries, had suggested that the suspect could not be the criminal for obscure reasons that have to do with feminine intuition. And he adds a good layer of gossip on publicans who both are tyrants in their pubs and informers to the police. That makes a pleasant film altogether whose rhythm is slow enough for peaceful enjoyment and fast enough for some thrilling pleasure. The title is of course one of these tricks Hitchcock was so fond of: he is not lying really, he is just overstating with a tongue in his cheek and that works all the time and we smile after the film since we were trapped into believing it was frantic and it was just intense.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, University Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines, CEGID