Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Ten Days Wonder

(La Décade prodigieuse, France, 1971)

Claude Chabrol is often called the French Hitchcock, though his themes are a lot deeper than sheer suspense. He’s made some really good films, but this isn’t one of them. It is stagy, almost operatic, but not in a good sense. Orson Welles mumbles his part, and Lee and I were both distracted by the spectacle of his nose, which seems to be made of gray putty. Tony Perkins gives his standard wacko performance. The story is by Ellery Queen, not my kind of writer. In the end it adds up to very little. But oddly, it is the photography I hated the most. All the colors are wrong, too bright, too saturated, I don’t know the exact term, but it all looks like one of those low-budget Hammer or American-International films of the ‘60s, maybe directed by Roger Corman. And almost every shot was done with a zoom lens! There was a brief period around there when good zoom lenses first became available for Panavision cameras, and some directors couldn’t resist them. Bob Fosse used them entirely too much in Sweet Charity. A zoom shot is not a dolly shot, but directors liked them because you didn’t have to lay a lot of camera track like you do with a dolly shot. Thank god they’re over that now. They make a professional production look exactly like a cheap 8mm home movie.