The writer, actor, and director Sacha Guitry emerged from the theater to become one of France’s best-known and most inventive filmmakers, and La poison
marked his first collaboration with another titan of the screen, the incomparably expressive Michel Simon. With Guitry’s witty dialogue and fleet pacing, the black comedy is the quintessential depiction of a marriage gone sour: after thirty years together, a village gardener (Simon) and his wife (Germaine Reuver) find themselves contemplating how to do away with each other, with the former even planning how he’ll negotiate his eventual criminal trial. Inspired by Guitry’s own post–World War II tangle with the law—a wrongful charge of collaborationism—La poison
is a blithely caustic broadside against the French legal system and a society all too eager to capitalize on others’ misfortunes.
- New interview with filmmaker Olivier Assayas on director Sacha Guitry’s influence on French cinema
- On Life On-screen: Miseries and Splendour of a Monarch, a 60-minute documentary from 2010 on the collaboration of Guitry and Michel Simon
- An essay by film scholar Ginette Vincendeau and a 1957 obituary for Guitry by François Truffaut