The 60s Chabrols that I’ve seen beyond Les Bonnes Femmes, Les Godelureaux and Les Biches fluctuated in quality but even the best are not likely to make the top 20 (though I still need to see The Third Lover, of which I’ve heard great things):
Landru (1963): One of the better historical fiction serial killer biopics out there (a surprisingly common modern genre), with Chabrol keeping the dark comedy at a simmering boil, not overdoing it or taking it more seriously than necessary. Again he peers into the psychology of the killer and bourgeois, male cultural roles and ideologies simultaneously, with solid results. I’m not sure exactly what the purpose of inserting WWI footage into the story was, but my guess is to show the backdrop to the killings and imply a contextual degree of validation to Landru’s perspective that “life is just blood and fear” as he rationalizes and defends his actions (though there is another more straightforward significance of the war, and how it served as an opportune epoch for him to commit his crimes).
Ophelia (1963): A well-crafted meta-Shakespeare adaptation, this starts off taking on a noirish tone, down to the disjointed relationship between the individual and his environment (which I realize is par for the course in Chabrol’s oeuvre, but this one feels slightly more obvious) and then veers into territory more sad and twisted than your typical hard-boiled tale. Not sinister, but a careful look at the psychologically troubled and existentially nihilistic via surreal phantasmagoria as the film continues before reverting back to those noirish conventions at the end. I probably like this more than most, given a lot of lukewarm thoughts I’ve read on it, and it’ll be on the cusp of making my list.
Le Tigre aime a la chair fraiche (1964) and Le Tigre se parfume la dynamite (1965): Enjoyable spy spoofs that are complicated, ultra-ridiculous, and light enough not to put too much utility into expectations for them to be better. The second was far more exaggerated than the first, but it kind of has to be to warrant getting made at all! Worth seeing for any completists, die-hard fans interested in Chabrol’s trajectory, or those looking for a silly B-movie to throw on.
La Ligne de d'marcation (1966): There’s a lot to admire here about the way Chabrol tells this story. His form, pacing, and overall way he weaves scenes together leaves little to complain about, but it left me cold nonetheless. This is a film that’s all technique with little feeling, though it does spark cognitions in touching on one of Chabrol’s favorites themes of complex, relative morality via the actions of switching sides in a wartime conflict to service personal needs and desires. Not a bad film at all, but nothing memorable
La Femme infidile (1969): Perhaps I’ve just been plowing through too many Chabrol thrillers, but I wasn’t as affected by this as the general consensus. Chabrol has taken the themes and style he employs here to more polished and unique terrain in other works, but perhaps this is where that new context begins, as Chabrol’s style becomes calmer and less flashy here compared to his other 60s (and 50s) films. This would of course become the norm going forward as he stretched himself within that wheelhouse with less visible auteur touches than his peers, but clear fingerprints present everywhere for those who look. This is without a doubt a good film, but not deserving of the seemingly unanimous effusive praise when paired with other films in Chabrol’s oeuvre.
Que la bete meure (1969): Similar to La Rupture, this starts with a bang that shakes our nerves and then facilitates a methodical, cool-tempered, and detached film, yet not complacent. For a while we are continuously reminded of the emotions behind the actions and are invested in the vengeance plot, not because we are subjectively aligned with our protagonist’s emotions but because our cinematic desires are provoked through the mise en scène. Chabrol then throws a curveball when