Richard's antagonist is Jean-Paul Belmondo's Laszlo Kovacs (the pseudonym taken by Belmondo's character in his next film, Breathless). A boorish agent of anarchy affianced to Henri's daughter and a hanger-on at his château, Laszlo harangues his patron to leave his harpy of a wife and run off with Leda (Antonella Lualdi), the beauty who lives next door. What unfolds behind the scenes of their zesty, Rohmer-esque gabfests is not entirely a surprise, and it happens twice, as the title suggests, from different points of view.
Meanwhile, Audran has emerged from her shopgirl chrysalis to become LAFEMME INFIDÈLE (1960; March 12 @ 7 pm). Things couldn't look more perfect in the opening scene, as loving wife Hélène (Audran) shares an al fresco lunch outside her Versailles home with older husband Charles (Michel Bouquet) and their delightful son. But then Charles spots Hélène covertly talking on the telephone, and soon enough he's hired a private detective to find out who she might be stepping out with. Charles then does some investigating of his own and comes across what seems to be the parody of a Hitchcock MacGuffin — a giant Zippo lighter.
There's a lot less talk and much more cold, empty space in this domestic tragedy, measured out by Chabrol's zooms and slow pans, as Charles learns that homicide might be the ultimate aphrodisiac. So it proves to be in many of Chabrol's other films, such as INNOCENTS WITH DIRTY HANDS (1975; March 19 @ 9 pm), and PLEASURE PARTY (1975; March 27 @ 7 pm), where homicide seems the key to a happy marriage.
Murder also proves a great way to meet women. Such is the case in THIS MAN MUST DIE (1969; March 18 @ 7 pm). A little boy's day by the seaside ends with a streak of red and a chalk outline on the street after he's killed by a hit-and-run driver. Red is likewise the color of the pen with which the boy's father, Charles Thenier (Michel Duchaussoy), writes in his diary his plans for tracking down the killer. After months of dead ends, he gets a break, learning that a passenger in the car is the actress Hélène Lanson (Caroline Cellier), just one in Chabrol's series of femmes-sometimes-fatales with that given name.
Charles courts and wins the unwitting Hélène, who leads him to the suspected culprit, Paul Decourt (Jean Yanne). To Charles's relief, Paul is not some good-natured loser whom he might pity but the ideal fall guy, a "caricature of evil," as he writes, a brutal husband and father hated by all except his dotty mother. But complications disrupt Charles's calculations. His feelings for Hélène may not be feigned. And then there's the recurring song from Brahms's Vier ernste Gesänge on the soundtrack, the lyrics of which, drawn from Ecclesiastes, warn, "The beast must die/But the man must die as well."
In short, the beast lies within. Hardly a news flash, but few have dramatized this truism as cogently as Chabrol, again and again. Perhaps his most compelling portrait of human evil is LE BOUCHER (1970; March 19 @ 7 pm), which opens (like many of his films) with an image of bourgeois bliss, here a wedding in a village in the Dordogne, its innocence not quite spoiled by a lingering close-up of bloody meat. One of the guests, Paul Thomas (a more presentable Jean Yanne), engages another, Hélène (Audran), the headmistress of the local school, in conversation. He tells her he's returned to his home town after serving in the army for 15 years. He's a butcher, the same job he had while in uniform. "I was a butcher in Algeria, in Indochina," he says. Hélène doesn't ask for details.