Monday, 18 May 2015


To Play the King and The Final Cut, the second and third chapters of the original House of Cards trilogy starring Ian Richardson, are now available on French region 2 DVD thanks to Koba Films (as "House of Cards - Saison 2" and  "House of Cards - Saison 3")

[Update July 15] Reviews here:  (The Final Cut)  (To Play the King)

See also: (House of Cards with Ian Richardson)

Friday, 8 May 2015


In the 1950s, Commissaire Jules Maigret, a laconic, pipe-smoking French policeman, uses his profound knowledge of human nature to solve crimes. Volume 3 of the TV series Maigret (1991-2005), the definitive adaptation of the character created by novelist Georges Simenon, is available since March in France on DVD.

The set from Koba Films contains eight episodes of the 54 feature-length installments starring the great Bruno Cremer as the detective.

« Vous êtes exaspérant, Maigret. Vous savez toujours tout avant tout le monde. »

English producer Steve Hawes, former head of drama at Granada Television, and French producers Eve Vercel and Robert Nador of Dune Production, devised Maigret for French pubcaster Antenne 2/France 2 when the channel axed Les enquêtes du commissaire Maigret (1967-1990) with Jean Richard to give its familiar figure a fresh start. Movie, stage and TV actor Bruno Cremer accepted the iconic role after due reflection, for 12 episodes only.

To radically differ from the previous version, the producers decided to set theirs in the Fifties with a cinematic feel, hence a budget that required co-production with Swiss and Belgian televisions, French private channel La 5 (declared bankrupt in 1992) and EC Télévision Paris. But also filming in Switzerland, Belgium, Czech Republic (which became an essential production partner) or Finland. Even South Africa and Cuba for some later entries.

Laurent Petitgirard composed and conducted the magnificent theme of Maigret, and the superb music of most of the series. Semi-regular cast includes Anne Bellec (Mrs Maigret).

« Les détails. Faut jamais oublier les détails, Castaing. » 

- Maigret et la vieille dame (1994). Directed by David Delrieux. Adapted by Catherine Ramberg and David Delrieux from Maigret and the Old Lady. A subtle confrontation between the detective and a lively old widow played by Odette Laure. Also with Béatrice Agenin (Arlette), Bernard Freyd (Charles Besson), Olivier Cruveiller (Castaing), etc.

« Fred, un alcoolique qui ne boit plus c'est un type qui a caché sa bouteille; un voyou qui ne braque plus, c'est le même, qui a planqué son flingue. Le bonheur, c'est tout simplement du malheur qui sommeille. »  

- Maigret et la vente à la bougie (1994). Directed by Pierre Granier-Deferre. Adapted by Dominique Roulet and Pierre Granier-Deferre from Under the Hammer. Sick while in province to question an inkeeper, Maigret must investigate the murder of a guest. Etienne Chicot, the legendary Daniel Gélin and Michèle Moretti are amongst the guest stars of this very good episode (except for a clumsy dream sequence).

- Les vacances de Maigret (1994). Directed by Pierre Joassin. Adapted by Catherine Ramberg and Pierre Joassin from No Vacation for Maigret. Maigret and his wife are in Belgium to see her family when Mrs Maigret has appendicitis. A perfect showcase for the talented Alain Doutey as Dr Delaunay. The late Ronny Coutteure is Commissaire Mansuy. Vincent Grass, who appeared in Maigret chez les Flamands (1992) as another character, plays Francis. Grass dubbed Bruno Cremer in the last episode (Maigret et l'Étoile du nord, 2005) because of the actor's health issues.

- Maigret a peur (1995). Directed and adapted by Claude Goretta from Maigret Afraid. Maigret visits an old friend but the town is in shock after two murders. Even consummate professionals like Jean-Paul Roussillon, Didier Flamand and Raymond Gerôme can't save this installment shot in France from boredom.

- Maigret et l'affaire Saint-Fiacre (1995). Directed by Denys de la Patellière. Adapted by Alexandre and Denys de la Patellière from Maigret goes home. The commissaire returns to the village where he spent his youth because of a note announcing a crime. With the excellent Jacques Spiesser as the count of Saint-Fiacre and the formidable Jacques Sereys as Dr Bouchardon (« L'éphèbe évanescent en robe de chambre à ramages que vous avez vu apparaître au bas de l'escalier! ») Maigret at its best.

- Maigret et le port des brumes (1995). Directed by Charles Nemes. Adapted by Guy-Patrick Sainderichin from Death of a Harbourmaster. With Jean-Claude Dauphin (Grandmaison). A forgettable entry saved by some amusing scenes between Maigret and Verduret, played by Jean-Marie Cornille. Filmed in Ireland.

« Ari, tu sais bien que je ne pense pas. »  

- Maigret en Finlande (1995). Co-produced by YLE TV1 Drama (Finnish Broadcasting Company). Helmed by Finnish director Pekka Parikka (The Winter War). Scriptwriter Bernard Marié, who worked on the series starring Jean Richard, brilliantly adapts A Crime in Holland to bring back Maigret in Finland after Maigret et le fantôme (1994). Timmo Torikka returns as Inspector Ari. Robin Renucci portrays Jean Duclos, a funny Agatha Christie-esque criminologist and wannabe amateur sleuth in a case where he's the main suspect.

- Maigret tend un piège (1996). Directed by Czech helmer Jujaj Herz. Adapted by Bernard Marié from Maigret sets a trap. A little better than Herz's previous effort (La tête d'un homme). Maigret wants to catch a serial killer in Paris. With Bruno Todeschini (Moncin). Comedian Élie Sémoun plays a reporter.

The eight episodes of this DVD set from Koba Films are on four discs. French subtitles for the hearing impaired are available.

See also: