15 December 2021

André Cayatte's Verdict (1974)

This is an André Cayatte courtroom drama, with Térésa Léoni as an unglamourous Sofia Loren and Jean Gabin in his penultimate acting role as the judge Leguen. Térésa's son André (Michel Albertini) is accused of the rape and murder of a young woman in her late teens, the daughter of a teacher from Lyon, and Leguen seems bent on serving a life sentence on him. André's father was a notorious crook, and this is an example of Cayatte (fiercely against the death penalty) showing mitigating circumstances. This is Leguen's final case before retiring with his diabetic wife Nicole (Gisèle Casadesus), who Térésa has kidnapped in return for Leguen turning round the way the verdict is heading, thus saving her precious son.

Leguen then works to defend André, and is successful when the verdict is announced that he is innocent. However, André confesses to his mother that he is in fact guilty. Térésa leads Leguen to the house where she is in full awareness that his wife has killed herself by refusing to take insulin, and consequently drives herself into a brick wall. The ending of this film – the suicidal drive – is very similar to that in À chacun son enfer (1977).

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