Best French Suspense Thrillers of all time
written by Souranath Banerjee
Best French Suspense Thrillers of all time – and that includes the classics, the definitives, the masterpieces and only the immortals of French cinema that simply refuse to fade away with time!
They are edgy, classy and full of intense drama; the plots twist and the tension builds up, till the suspense is revealed. All internationally acclaimed cinemas made by some of the most famous French directors of the time.
Hold on to your seats folks, let the fun begin!
10. This Man Must Die (1969)
Que la bête meure (original title)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImsAaCwoG0g
One of the best from French director Claude Chabrol where a father is obsessed with revenge as he recently lost her daughter in a hit-and-run accident. But then, unfortunately he gets too involved with the lives of the culprits!
A complicated and intense portrayal of human nature with brilliant performances.
A few other thrillers from the same director are La Cérémonie (1995), Le Boucher (1970) and Violette (1978).
9. Diva (1981)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JS2t2Noglac
Directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix, this is the story of a handful of characters – an opera fan, a thief, a cop, a couple of hit men and a philosopher, all entangled in a murder plot that they cannot escape from.
A visually stunning thriller with some brilliant chasing sequences that needs much more attention from film buffs all across the world.
8. Le Jour se Leve (1939)
Le jour se lève (original title)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlLqSYt3EdM
A man commits a murder and locks himself up in his apartment, going through his head the events that led him into the terrible crime in the first place.
Shot beautifully in black and white, directed by Marcel Carné, one of the pioneers of Poetic realism film movement of the 1930s, this is undoubtedly one of his best work.
7. Purple Noon (1960)
Plein soleil (original title)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWnvLNTzt-k
Have you seen The Talented Mr. Ripley starring Matt Damon and Jude Law?
Well, this film is the first adaptation from the same novel written by Patricia Highsmith, brilliantly directed by René Clément.
Enigmatic Alain Delon portrays the role of the versatile Mr.Ripley and his performance is outstanding!
6. Eyes Without a Face (1960)
Les yeux sans visage (original title)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEjrg-L8lvs
A talented surgeon wants to give her disfigured daughter a new face but his methods of attempting face transplantation are rather unconventional, I mean it involves things like kidnapping and murder!
Directed by Georges Franju, this is one brilliant emotional thriller that evokes a haunting effect, more like an unforgettable nightmare!
5. Shoot the Piano Player (1960)
Tirez sur le pianiste (original title)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjd6Eg9APAs
A classic thriller, the second feature directed by acclaimed auteur François Truffaut.
A piano player who gets mixed up in some dangerous business and now his life is in danger!
The film though not very commercially successful when released, is considered far ahead of its time by many critics and has a huge cult following over the years, a must watch!
4. Elevator to the Gallows (1958)
Ascenseur pour l’échafaud (original title)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euB6PWW6tcI
A calculated murder, a mistress and then misfortune! Does the concept of perfect murder exists in real? No matter how much planning and precaution one takes there always remains the factor of ‘unpredictability’!
Directed by renowned Louis Malle, this one is a superb thriller that takes it slow and yet very engaging with the many twists and turns that keeps you guessing till the end.
3. Rififi (1955)
Du rififi chez les hommes (original title)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVRiC5ysSLk
A spectacular tale of a group of jewel thieves who carefully plan out their next heist and execute it with enough precision – but can they pull it off till the end without any glitch?
The level of suspense in the film is absolutely intense and almost romantically dangerous. Directed by Jules Dassin, he won the best director for this one at the Cannes Film Festival that year!
2. Le Samouraï (1967)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmWt0l7hX8k
A professional hitman, a cool perfectionist gets into trouble as he’s seen by witnesses while committing a murder. But then he wants to prove his alibi and the real trouble begins!
With Alain Delon playing the sleek hitman and the master of French Suspense Thriller Jean-Pierre Melville as the director, this one is definitely the coolest films in this list.
A few other thrillers from the same director are Bob le Flambeur (1956), Le Doulos (1962), Army of Shadows (1969) and Le Cercle Rouge (1970).
1. Diabolique (1955)
Les diaboliques (original title)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzbGtjtfZwA
The wife and the mistress plans to murder a sadistic man and succeeds, but then the two women doesn’t have much chance of relief as they are rattled by some strange events!
Directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot, a cult classic cult, undoubtedly the best French suspense thriller with a superb plot and certainly the best twist in the tale!
A few other thrillers from the same director are The Wages of Fear (1953) and Le Corbeau (1943).
and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most innovative one. A must watch).
+1. Pickpocket (1959)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCZhSPwIZEg
The story of a man whose hobby/profession is to pick pockets; a thief, but then also an independent man who wants to express himself through an unusually dangerous profession!
Directed by Robert Bresson and brilliantly performed by Martin LaSalle, technically a classic crime drama but then, it scores much above than most of its so called contemporary French Suspense Thrillers!
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