Exteriors and interiors are staged with compositions that layer different elements across their own planes of foreground and background, while interiors parcel dark and light according to the nature of the characters.
This masterpiece is inescapably, gloriously a "women's movie" about the choices women have or don't have, and how they navigate the world through sheer cussedness.
In these Nazi-era escapist films by Claude Autant-Lara, the idea of escape itself and the uncertainties of the fronts we display to others become more complicated than anyone would wish.
Pulp functions less as a pulpy mystery or gangster tale than as a spoof of same, albeit a spoof that retains a noirish sense of fate and power.
Hollywood has little use for its pre-history and D. W. Griffith never had Hal Roach's business sense.
This story is largely driven by intelligent women, except for the scatterbrained Marmy, and that seems unsurprising when we consider that Wylie was a former Suffragette who preferred living with women.
Director Elaine May belongs to that list of otherwise male creative geniuses who naturally clash with the commercial system, including Erich Von Stroheim, Orson Welles, and Otto Preminger.
Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.
Beware the seemingly merry shades of green and red that spread so slowly and thickly across the holiday season, for something dark and uncertain, something that takes many forms, stirs beneath the joyful facade.
While this movie is very, very Fellini in its circus parade of the contemporary world's chaos and noise, it also seems faithful to at least the spirit and structure of Cavazzoni's novel.
These two films fall on the disposable but fun end of the spectrum of sophisticated thrillers.