Based on a novel by Stefan Zweig, adapted to the screen by novelist Joseph Kessel, "La Peur" (aka "Vertige d'un Soir") is one of those bourgeois melodramas of the 1930s. It was directed with some refinement by Russian-born Viktor Tourjansky in France just before moving to Germany, so it can be said it is his farewell to French cinema. The movie is not bad, but probably not Tourjansky's best.
Gaby Morlay is Irène, the wife of a famous and wealthy lawyer (Charles Vanel), who falls briefly for a young and handsome pianist (Georges Rigaud) while on vacations on the French Riviera. When she comes back to her married life in Paris, she falls prey to a blackmailer, the pianist's jealous former mistress, while her husband's behavior becomes more and more unpredictable... Charles Vanel is as usually very good as the betrayed and yet not so innocent husband, a part he has played often. Garboesque Gaby Morlay is less convincing (more theatrical) as his wife. I guess there is nothing to expect from this movie but its premise, which is a melodrama in the French pre-war upper bourgeoisie, with a set of good actors of that time (a special mention to Suzy Prim as the "mistress", charmingly vulgar, a real Parisian bird), leading men in tuxedos and ladies dressed in lamé gowns and furs.
2 out of 4 found this helpful