If Dario Argento were to remake THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO the results
would likely play very much like this deliriously odd French thriller
from the seventies.
UNCUT the late Klaus Kinski claimed this 1976 film suffers
from “the addiction to the sick and macabre, the addiction to rot and
decay” that “garbage-picking movie directors pilfer from the refuse
dumps of human brains.” GOLDEN NIGHT (NUIT D’OR) was one of many
European exploitation films Kinski appeared in during the seventies, and
it’s actually more substantive than most, with upscale production values
and a cast that includes respected actors like Bernard Blier and Charles
Vanel. The director was the French TV specialist Segre Moati, whose
feature film career appears to have begun and ended with this film.
Michel Fournier is a petty criminal who’s just returned
from the dead. He’s determined to avenge himself on his enemies, most of
whom are relatives. Michel sends his enemies threatening letters,
followed by ultra-creepy handmade dolls created from spare parts filched
from the doll shop where he currently resides. Michel also pays a visit
to his comatose mother, who as you might guess doesn’t have much to say,
and kidnaps his brother’s young granddaughter Catherine.
The middle-aged police superintendent Pidoux is among
those Michel contacts, being the man who captured and brought Michel
down. Michel arranges a nocturnal meeting with Pidoux in which Michel
taunts him, warning that he’ll kill Catherine if Pidoux tries anything.
This is no empty threat, as we learn that Michael had previously
kidnapped a little girl who wound up dead.
From there Michel gets involved with Andree, a strange
woman who runs an obscure religious cult that once counted Michel as a
member. Andree looks after Catherine in Michael’s absence, and incurs
his wrath when he discovers that Andree has tied up Catherine while he
By this point Pidoux is onto Michel’s whereabouts. The
latter has no choice but to release Catherine, leading to a final
showdown in Michel’s favorite gambling joint, the “Golden Night.”
This film isn’t entirely successful, but it is
compellingly weird. With its gaudy color scheme and opulent set design
the pic has an arresting look, and is suffused with an aura of
overheated melodrama that borders on comedic. In the lead role Klaus
Kinski is typically spastic and unhinged, with the scenes in which he
abuses the kidnapped girl feeling a little too realistic for comfort.
The narrative drive is generally solid, albeit packed
with bizarre detours, such as the police inspector obsessively turning a
lamp on and off in his apartment and the kidnapped girl’s father
enthusiastically telling his traumatized wife how one strangles a child
Yet despite all this the film is just too scant in
inspiration and running time. At 78 minutes it’s far too short to make a
full impression, with quite a few plot points left unexplained (such as
Michel’s earlier life and his claims of being falsely accused of murder,
and also the fate of the mysterious Andree). The reason might be a
too-low budget, or possibly just the fact that director Serge Moati was
a TV specialist who never got the hang of feature filmmaking.
GOLDEN NIGHT (NUIT D’OR)
Director: Serge Moati
Producer: Philippe Dussart
Screenplay: Francoise Verny, Serge Moati
Cinematography: Andre Neau
Editing: Jacqueline Tarrit, Claude Ronzeau
Cast: Bernard Blier, Klaus Kinski, Marie Dubois, Jean-Luc Bideau,
Charles Vanel, Anny Duperey, Elisabeth Flickenschildt, Raymond Bussieres,
Valerie Pascale, Maurice Ronet