Around the frail structure of a story [by Aubrey Wisberg] about a schizophrenic Paris police inspector who becomes an insane killer at night, a tight combination of direction, camerawork and musical scoring produce a series of isolated visual effects that are subtle and moving to an unusual degree.
Paradoxically, the film seems to collapse under the weight of its technical niceties as director Joseph H. Lewis continuously takes time out to make his points through the indirection of cinematic imagery rather than directly through the spoken word.
Settings for the pic, which unfolds in an obscure French village, are outstanding for their density and accuracy of detail. Despite the obvious budget limitations, the layout of the streets, interior decorations and landscape shots define France as it exists in our imagination.
Story revolves around the ill-fated romance between a middle-aged Parisian detective and a young country girl who is already betrothed to a neighboring farmer. On the wedding eve, the farmer in a well-portrayed dramatic encounter, threatens the detective and stalks out of the party, the girl following in a frenzy of mixed emotions. Several days later, both the girl and farmer are found to have been strangled to death.