La Rupture (1970) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

This nearly-forgotten film from Claude Chabrol is actually a lot more interesting than some of Chabrol's better known classics. It still retains some of Chabrol's negatives:
  • The exposition can be clumsy and boring. At one point, he reveals the entire back-story by having the main character recite it all while riding in a tram with her lawyer. There is no visualization to support the story, just a series of "talking head" shots. This seems to go on and on in real time.
  • He commits a cardinal sin in suspense films. He lets politics get in the way of the pacing. The film would move forward at a much better pace if Chabrol would stop being hung up on the corruption and amorality of the wealthy classes, and just stick to the damned story.
  • He still allows inconsequential details to creep in and slow the pace. For example, at one point in the hospital, somebody comes up to the main character and says, "are you Mrs. So-and-so?". Neither the questioner nor Mrs. So-and-so are relevant to the plot. She answers in the negative, and the exchange simply has no point at all other than to slow the exposition further. You'd love to ask Chabrol why he didn't cut this.


Catherine Rouvel shows her breasts and buns in many scenes. Although their is no frontal shot below the waist, she does an inadvertant open-leg shot from behind.

Two women show their breasts in the lesbian scene in the porno film-within-a-film.

On the other hand, this film also has Chabrol's positives, and adds some intriguing elements to the mix:

  • The film starts out with something happening immediately, in a cold opening before the credits! A woman makes breakfast for her family. Her husband comes out of the bedroom wild-eyed and attacks her and their toddler son. The boy is injured. The woman, protecting herself and her son, grabs a heavy pan, and starts clobbering the guy.
  • There is a plot. After the big fight in the opening scene, the filthy rich father of the wild-eyed husband doesn't want his daughter-in-law to take away his grandson. He refuses to admit that his son is nutty as a fruitcake. He hires a sleazeball to discredit his daughter-in-law by hook or by crook, with facts if possible, but doing whatever is necessary if the facts are not sufficient. The sleazeball insinuates himself into the life of the daughter-in-law at her boarding house, wins her trust, and hatches various evil schemes. The plot is based on a story by the awarded mystery writer Charlotte Armstrong (The Balloon Man). More than thirty years later, another of Armstrong's stories (The Chocolate Cobweb) would form the basis of Chabrol's popular 2002 film, Merci pour le chocolat.
  • The minor characters and sub-plots are quirky and fascinating. Virtually every character in the film is fun to watch. The sleazeball's girlfriend is a nymphomaniac who never wears clothing. The boarding house is filled with complete loonies. There is an aspiring actor who wears a cape and punctuates his every word and gesture with grand theatrical flourishes, ala Jon Lovitz as Master Thespian. There are three dotty old ladies. The landlord in the boarding house is a drunk, and his daughter is ... well, I don't know what's wrong with her. Let's just say her gate is down, and her lights are flashin', but her train ain't comin'. The evil father-in-law is almost as crazy as his wild-eyed son. The mother-in-law reads children's stories to the wild-eyed son, who appears to be in his thirties. There's even an acid trip!

DVD info from Amazon

  • there is a widescreen version, but it is letterboxed, not anamorphically enhanced

  • the transfer is poor, filled with interlacing problems, motion blur, faded colors, and other signs of aging. It has not been remastered.

  • there are some minor features, including the original trailer

  • there is a commentary by two critics who are pretty much clueless. For example, they natter on about Chabrol's satirical looks at French society without seeming to realize that the film obviously takes place in Belgium. (The signs are in Dutch!)

  • The sleazeball is an entertaining predecessor of the over-the-top villains often used in modern films.
  • The background music is some seriously weird stuff. Much of it was created on an Ondes Martenot, a bizarre French instrument similar to a Theremin. I'm not sure the score was eerie in all the right places, but the sounds certainly added some unique atmosphere.
  • Strangely enough, it actually contains scenes from a 8mm porno film-within-the-film, including some lesbian Satan-worshippers. These scenes show no lower body nudity, but are still oddly frank for a mainstream 1970 thriller.

The Critics Vote

  • no major reviews online

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C+. A pretty good thriller which overcomes some clumsy exposition in the center of the film with colorful characters and an interesting plot.

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