La Denonciation aka The Immoral Moment, written and directed by Jacques Doniol-Valcroze
This is a very interesting crime story, with very important psychological, psychoanalytical insights into the human mind.
A murder has been committed and the usual investigation will uncover not just intricate criminal connections, but a story from the past that has relevance in the present inquiry, with The Immoral Moment brought back.
Michel Jussier is the man who is first interrogated by Malferrer, the detective in charge with finding the killer or murderers, because the former has been a witness at the place of the crime, even if what he remembers is not very helpful.
He had been in the Play Boy club one night before, he had forgotten a jumper that he wanted to collect the following day, when, as he arrived at about eight, he does not know for sure since his watch is not very accurate, he noticed that although the sign says the bar opens at eight, it was still closed and hence he stays around, looking at the newspaper he has, until, a few minutes later he tries the door again.
He could walk in this time- when he is interrupted by the investigator he says that he was busy with his paper so he did not see anyone walk in or go out- and tied to move in the darkness, when he stumbles upon something.
The soft obstacle turns out to be a corpse and this is the moment when the door ahead opens, the witness cannot see because the two people have the light behind them, they advance and one of them hits Jussier on the head.
The two persons were one man and a woman, but the confused victim, when he wakes up from the unconscious state does not recollect anything, except that he thinks they said something, perhaps the woman.
The dead man was called Yvain and he had been the owner of the Play Boy club until, months before he had had to sell, because the business was not good, he had accumulated debts and had to pull out.
The suspicion is that there might have been disagreements over payments, relating to the bar, but political involvement gains traction as a lead, since the dead man has had some important enemies in power.
Meanwhile, Michel Jussier gets some anonymous threats from what seems like the ones responsible for the murder, one theory being that they came in, did not want to kill the victim, it was unexpected and they kicked the witness unconscious to gain time and decide what the next move should be.
Uncertain as to what Jussier had seen, they are now pressuring him to keep quiet and not talk about them: “si tu parle, on te descend”.
The detective in charge talks about archeologists and their resemblance to police officers: “archeologists try to solve the mysteries of the past while detectives try to find the key to the ones of the present”
Gradually, Michel Jussier becomes the main character of the narrative, although he is not a suspect, in fact Malferrer emphasizes that, in spite of the fact that he is sure Jussier is not the killer, the problem is that there are guilty men who are less dangerous than the innocents who can become perilous.
There is something in the past of the protagonist that affects what he is doing during this inquiry and he recalls how, during World War II, he was caught by the Nazis, who have threated to use violence if he does not betray his companions, members of the Resistance who have to get in jail, so that he can be saved.
Jussier had a translator called Jerome, who did not limit himself to putting German words in French form, but he explained the situation to the prisoner, nudging and urging him to talk, because it will have no effect.
The translator gave inside information, risking a lot in the process and told the member of the Resistance that the Gestapo already knows all that is needed to round up everyone, because another prisoner had already given all that is needed.
When the war ended, Michel Jussier was celebrated as a hero, considering he did not talk and he resisted in jail, while everyone knew who the traitor was and the collaborator, such as the translator, is jailed and on trial.
Indeed, the “hero” is called to testify by Jerome and his lawyer and he has the chance to save the one who had offered him such a golden opportunity, when he was about to be tortured by the Nazis.
Only the despicable Jussier says nothing, because coming to the defense of his savior would mean accepting his own guilt and the fact that he had actually given the required names and addresses to the Germans…
This antihero keeps addressing the suspect with- if you remember I will try and see if it brings back memories, as it is I am not sure, I know you were friendly and not wearing a Nazi uniform…but he stops short of saving the translator who is condemned to death and executed, when his intervention should have been made public.
Michel Jussier is conducting his own investigation, talks to a dancer from Play Boy, Eleonore Germain, makes her boyfriend, who also used to be the bodyguard of the late Yvain, jealous and violent.
The ending is surprising and the film very good.