The Vintagent Classics: The films that inspired us. 


Run Time: 1:40:00
Producer: Hubert Vincent-Bréchignac
Director: Bernard-Roland
Writer: François Chalais, Henri Decoin, Marcel Rivet
Key Cast: Maria Montez, Erich von Stroheim, Arletty and Pierre Brasseur


“I expected my shooting mishap to be followed by a legal mishap. Well, what do we do now? Shall we have a drink? Make love? Throw things at each other?”

Portrait of an Assassin (French: Portrait d’un assassin) is a 1949 French drama thriller. The film was financed by a French furrier. It was originally announced that the film would be called Portrait of a Murderer and would star Maria Montez and Orson Welles. “Could be the battlingest picture of the century”, wrote Hedda Hopper.

Orson Welles and Charles Lederer were hired to rewrite the script. They wrote a new script in just a few weeks, but the producers didn’t use it, didn’t make the last payment on their salaries, and on top of that, sued them. In My Lunches With Orson, Welles says “They didn’t use one word we wrote. But they used the story.” Furthermore, “We got paid by a black-market producer who came to the Lancaster hotel with the money wrapped in newspaper.”


Fabius: “I never once got on that bike, not even one night, for the last two years without thinking it would be the last time.”

Martha: “So you wanted to kill me because you were afraid something would happen to you?”

Christina (Montez) is the sadistic manager of a circus show, who uses her attractiveness to seduce men and force them to do dangerous acrobatic acts. One such lover, Eric (Von Stroheim), became handicapped.

Christina seduces Fabius (Brasseur) but his wife Martha (Arletty), turns up and performs the acrobatic act and dies. Fabius then murders Christina in revenge, does the act himself, survives and confesses.


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