Les yeux sans visage
****/**** Image A Sound A Extras C
starring Pierre Brasseur, Alida Valli, François Guérin, Edith Scob
screenplay by Pierre Boileau, Thomas Narcejac, Jean Redon and Claude Sautet, based on the novel by Jean Redon
directed by Georges Franju
by Walter Chaw Five films changed the conversation in 1960. They were the fire, though the embers were stoked in the years leading up to them. Looking for signposts in the Eisenhower Fifties, you find the juvenile-delinquent cycle, plus the outré horror flicks of England's Hammer Studios, or Japan's tokusatsus, or France's Nouvelle Vague. More directly, you find a pair of films based on works by the team of Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac, Diabolique and Vertigo. But in 1960, there was this quintet, each the product of parallel genesis, each proof after a fashion of a Jungian collective unconscious, perhaps, certainly that things long-simmering inevitably boil over. There's an idea in my head, put there by Ethan Mordden's Medium Cool, that everything that happened in the arts in the United States throughout the Fifties points to what was about to happen in our culture in the Sixties. Mordden is the source of my favourite teaching point when it comes to the two eras: that in the Fifties, if you didn't listen to Mother, society was doomed; and in 1960, if you listened to Mother, you were Psycho.