The 13th Letter

Otto Preminger’s 1951 remake of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Le Corbeau (1943), a nasty noir thriller about a series of poison-pen letters that terrorize a small town, shifts the action to Quebec, where much of the film was shot. The original film courageously if covertly attacked the sleaziness of collaboration during the German occupation of France; Preminger’s version, scripted by Howard Koch, projects a more generalized as well as sanitized misanthropy. But it’s still one of his best efforts of the periodhe’s so adroit at raising doubts about all the characters that the denouement can’t help but disappoint a little. With Michael Rennie, Charles Boyer, Linda Darnell, and Constance Smith. 85 min. (JR)

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