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Film / The Bride Wore Black

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The Bride Wore Black (La mariée était en noir) is a 1968 French thriller film directed by Fran├žois Truffaut and starring Jeanne Moreau, Charles Denner, Michel Bouquet and Michael Lonsdale. It is based on the 1940 novel of the same name by Cornell Woolrich.

A woman named Julie Kohler (Moreau) tries to jump out a window to her death, but is stopped by her mother. She then leaves her family. She stalks Bliss, a man who does not know her. She infiltrates a party that Bliss organizes and she kills him (she throws him off the balcony of his flat). Some time later, she begins stalking another man. Eventually, her motive is revealed: she is stalking, and murdering, five men who are responsible for the death of her husband on the day of her wedding.

Bernard Herrmann composed the score.

The Bride Wore Black provides examples of:

  • Accidental Murder: Delvaux was playing with a hunting gun and accidentally killed Julie's husband when Morane tried to snatch the gun from him.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Zigzagged. In the book, a hitman killed Julie's Reformed Criminal husband prior to the main story and the men Julie kills are innocent of his death, while in the film, they did kill him. On the other hand, in the book, the five men are habitual drunk drivers who enjoy driving on the sidewalk to make pedestrians dive out of their way, which is more reckless than the accidental gun discharge which killed Julie's husband in the film.
  • Adapted Out: The film omits a Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist from the book.
  • Asshole Victim: Downplayed. The victims of Julie are not outright villainous, but most of them are not nice. Bliss flirts with another woman the day before his marriage. Morane is a Sleazy Politician and he tries to cheat on his wife. When they receive the telegram about his wife's mother being very ill, Morane says that she's super-old and might as well just die. Delvaux is a criminal.
  • At the Opera Tonight: Julie first meets Coral during a classical music concert: she sends the ticket to him and books a seat next to him.
  • Bald of Evil: Delvaux, a career criminal and the man who actually shot Julie's husband, is bald.
  • Bluff the Impostor: Julie claims that she knows Bliss to get access to his flat. The receptionist of the building where Bliss lives claims that Bliss has red hair, which is false. Julie does not correct this obvious mistake, so the receptionist realizes she is lying.
  • The Casanova:
    • Bliss and his friend Corey seduce many women. Bliss is going to get married, but this does not stop him from flirting with other women.
    • Fergus also seduces many women (he immediately tries to pick up a girl who comes to his studio to sit). He confesses that he is a ladies' man.
  • Chalk Outline: There's a Chalk Outline where Fergus's body lay, complete with an X to mark where Julie shot him with an arrow.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Julie's background. She explains that she had known her husband since she was a child and always knew she would marry him.
  • Confessional: In the middle of the movie, Julie goes to church to confess. The priest tries to dissuade her to keep on killing, but he fails.
  • Crusading Widow: Julie's husband was shot on the day of her marriage. She seeks revenge and she kills one by one the five men who were involved in this murder.
  • Cut Phone Lines: As Morane is nattering on at the dining table, Julie goes to the kitchen, grabs a great big butcher's knife...and uses it to cut the line to the telephone.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Julie's background. Her husband was shot on the day of her marriage.
  • Discreet Drink Disposal: In Coral's flat, Julie empties her glass of poisoned arak into a vase of flowers.
  • Dramatic Unmask: Corey, the one who finally remembered who the mystery woman is, whips the Widow's Weeds mask off of Julie at Fergus's funeral. It's not dramatic in the traditional "reveal the bad guy's identity" sense, but it's still pretty dramatic.
  • Ethereal White Dress: Julie's life was ruined when her husband was killed, so she can be considered as metaphorically dead. When she appears in the building where Bliss lives, she is dressed in white. She wears the same dress when she kills him during the party. She is also dressed in white when she is sitting for Fegus. Throughout the film, she only wears black and white clothes.
  • Femme Fatale: Julie seduces four men. She secretly plans to kill them all to avenge her husband.
  • The Film of the Book: The film is adapted from a 1940 novel of the same by Cornell Woolrich.
  • Flashback: Julie's motive is explained in two flashbacks that show her wedding day. Another flashback shows her Childhood Friend Romance with her future husband.
  • Get into Jail Free: Julie attends the funeral of Fergus. She expects to be caught there and she is actually arrested because Corey recognizes her. She wants to go to jail to murder Delvaux who was arrested earlier.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Delvaux was playing with a hunting gun and accidentally killed Julie's husband when Morane tried to snatch the gun from him.
  • In Love with the Mark: It's implied that Julie is developing feelings for Fergus, the painter. She makes a comment about how she can't delay in what she's going to do. She is obviously emotionally disturbed when he tells her that he loves her. When she's cleaning up after killing him, she can't bring herself to paint over the mural of her that he painted on the wall, even though it's highly incriminating. And then she attends his funeral.
  • Irony: Situational irony. Morane tried to snatch the gun from Delvaux because he thought playing with the gun was dangerous. It caused the accidental murder of Julie's husband.
  • The Lost Lenore: Julie's husband was killed. First she tries to commit suicide, then she decides to murder the five men involved in the killing of her husband.
  • Meaningful Name: Julie pronounces her last name, Kohler, just as colère, which means "anger" in French.
  • Plot Hole: How did Julie find any of this stuff out? She might have been able to find out who was renting the apartment where the five men were playing cards, but how could she have discovered the identity of the other four, who barely knew each other, and never told her?
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Julie's husband was shot on the day of her marriage. She seeks revenge and she kills one by one the five men who were involved in this murder. It's a pretty dark example—it was an accidental shooting, and of the five men she kills, only two were really directly responsible, Delvaux who held the gun and Morane who tried to grab it. The other three men she kills were guilty of nothing more than failing to go to the police.
  • Sleazy Politician: Morane stands for election and he offers to give the head teacher a medal in exchange for his support. He also tries to use his political position to get sexual favours from Julie.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: Julie puts poison into a bottle of arak she gives to Coral. Coral drinks it and dies.
  • Widowed at the Wedding: Julie's husband was shot on the day of her marriage.
  • Widow's Weeds: Zig-zagged. Throughout the film, Julie, whose husband was killed, only wears black and white clothes. During the funeral of Fergus, who she killed, she wears traditional widow's weeds that conceal her face.

Alternative Title(s): La Mariee Etait En Noir