Maigret Sets a Trap – “Maigret Tend un Piege”. Barbican Cinema 3. Review by Julia Pascal.


There is a quadruple bill of Maigret films currently at the Barbican.  I caught this one made in 1958.  It’s an expressionist love story to a nostalgic vision of the Marais district in Paris in the late 50s.  This black and white moody work has a murky beauty even though it depicts the hunt for a serial killer of women.

This screening was introduced by Professor Ginette Vincendeau from King’s College University. Vincendeau gave a brilliant overview of the film and its place in French cinema to an audience more familiar with this shabby hero in the English TV versions, of the 1960s and 1990s where Maigret was played respectively by Rupert Davies and Michael Gambon.  She helped us understand that this version emphasizes him as an ordinary working class French man quite in opposition to the English upper class  gent Sherlock Holmes.  By giving us the social context Vincendeau placed Jean Gabin’s Maigret within a Parisian society that was about to disappear into the 1960s New Modernism.  She was also able to heighten the audience’s awareness of the humour of Jean Delannoy’s fine production.

There have been many French actors who have interpreted Georges Simenon’s Inspector Maigret.  Charles Laughton plays him in The Man on the Eiffel Tower (1949) on 11 October and Harry Bauer plays him in La Tete d’un Homme  (1933) on 25 October.  This will be introduced by John Simenon.

The triple bill is in collaboration with Penguin Classics who are reprinting their Maigret series.

Julia Pascal © 2014.