French-British coproduction mixes Tony Richardson’s free-wheeling style and the script of the controversial French writer-playwright Jean Genet. It has two versions, one English and one French, since French star Jeanne Moreau is bilingual.
A small French farming town is the locale. Story is about an arsonist who is terrorizing the people. A poisoned drinking well, and opened irrigation ditches which flood the farms, finally lead the populace to form a lynching mob.
The ingrained suspicion regarding a foreigner makes an Italian woodcutter (Ettore Manni), living in the town, the scapegoat.
Moreau’s presence manages to make her schoolmarm character quite plausible in revealing her lurking lusts. But the remainder is somewhat sketchy, even though Manni has the virility to bring on hatreds from the other men and finally his own demise. The script seemingly needed more depth and background to the characters. Either that or almost surrealistic playing and treatment.