Simone Signoret (25 March 1921 – 30 September 1985) was a French film actress often hailed as one of France’s greatest movie stars. She became the first French person to win an Academy Award, for her role in Room at the Top (1959). In her lifetime she also received a BAFTA, an Emmy, Golden Globe, Cannes Film Festival recognition and the Silver Bear for Best Actress.
Les Diaboliques, released as Diabolique in the United States and variously translated as The Devils or The Fiends, is a 1955 French black-and-white feature film directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot, starring Simone Signoret, Vera Clouzot and Paul Meurisse. It is based on the novel Celle qui n’était plus (She Who Was No More) by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac. The story blends elements of thriller and horror to great effect, with the plot focusing on a woman and her husband’s mistress who conspire to murder the man; after the crime is committed, however, his body disappears, and a number of strange occurrences ensue.
Clouzot, right after finishing Wages of Fear allegedly snatched the screenplay rights from master of suspense, director Alfred Hitchcock. This movie apparently helped inspire Hitchcock’s Psycho. Robert Bloch himself, the author of novel “Psycho”, has stated in an interview that his all-time favorite horror film is Diaboliques.
Maverick British director Ken Russell died in his sleep Sunday at age 84. Russell’s controversial films included the Oliver Reed-Vanessa Redgrave starrer The Devils; Women In Love; and Tommy, the screen version of The Who’s rock opera. In the U.S., he directed the psychedelic Altered States, but his collaboration with equally strong-willed screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky haunted that film, and the failure of his next film, Crimes Of Passion, sent him back to the UK. There, he continued making films, the last of which was The Fall Of The Louse Of Usher.
Russell was a polarizing filmmaker, with critics often split on his films. His movies rarely achieved commercial success thanks to his unique takes on provocative themes that often included sex, drugs and violence. His 1971 film Women In Love, an adaptation of the D.H. Lawrence novel, was his only work to receive Academy Award consideration: it was nominated for four Oscars in 1971, including for best director, and won Best Actress for Glenda Jackson.