Quai des Orfevres, being for the French the equivalent of what Scotland Yard is for the British, indicates clearly that this is a detective meller [from the novel Legitime defense by S.A. Steeman]. In every respect it is outstanding.
The murder on which the investigation hangs is but an excuse for the story, which combines a character study of a show business couple, detective work most realistically staged in authentic sets of police headquarters.
Louis Jouvet, as the star, does not enter the picture until it has rolled some time. It opens showing Suzy Delair, an ambitious smalltime torch singer, making overtures to a banker who can star her overnight, despite the jealousy of her husband. Delair is of the Mae West type.
Jouvet does his part of the poor but honest detective with his usual peculiar mannerisms, but in exemplary manner. Bernard Blier, as the weak husband whom jealousy makes a potential murderer, brings out everything in the character.
Simone Renant, as the photographer who is the couple’s best friend, is very plausible. Charles Dullin, legit actor who specializes in character parts, is suitably repulsive as the picture-maker. Pierre Larquey is the honest taxidriver whom the police methods compel to turn informant in spite of himself.
Direction by Henri-Georges Clouzot takes full advantage of every possible opportunity to bring out character and manages to keep the tempo at a fast clip all the time.