The Infernal Trio (1974) Poster

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The discreet harm of the bourgeoisie.
dbdumonteil24 June 2002
There was an outcry when "le trio infernal" was released in 1974;the subject was nefarious.Sometimes recalling Leonard Kastle's incomparable "the honeymoon killers"(1969),it depicted the crimes of a Lawyer(Piccoli),his lover (Schneider),and the lover's young sister. Most horrible scene:to get rid of one of their victims' dead body,they dissolve it in sulphuric acid!The director insists on "preparations".We attend the whole thing,the director goes as far as showing the "heroes",emptying the bath tub with pails ,a gas mask on the face.

Enough was enough for the 1974 audience.The worst was Romy Schneider's presence.For a lot of people,she remained the lovely empress Sissi,all smile.She had actually showed this character's darker side in Visconti's "Ludwig II"(1973).The audience could accept her politically correct Sautet efforts-"les choses de la vie"1969,"César et Rosalie",1972)or the academic Granier-Deferre's "le train" (1972),but her portrayal of an abject woman playing with trash was too much for them.

A gruesome farce,it's also a caricature of a selfish society,with its religion the money Goddess.Retro style adds to the harm(sorry,charm)of this bourgeois wholesale massacre .
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The real crime story (caution : this is a complete spoiler)
thegreatswan18 August 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Sorry for dbdumonteil ! "Le trio infernal" is not inspired at all by "the honeymoon killers". It was an actual story ! The best business lawyer of Marseille, Georges "Sarret" Sarrejani, and his two lovers, German sisters Philomene and Catherine Schmidt, started their "work" in the 20's. They used to sign life insurances for dying people and keep the money... Once, on 1925 20th August, Sarret shot M.Chambon, another swindler, and Chambon's lover, Noémie, to steal their money... But, in order to make disappear the bodies, he placed them in a bathtub and cover with sulfuric acid... When the corpses were just a black kind of glue, Sarret and sisters Schmidt put the glue on buckets and pour the content on the garden.

But they made another swindle. That was their loss. All three of them were arrested in 1930. The double crime was soon known, but Sarret was extremely talented. He found anything to delay the trial, for three whole years ! On 1933, October 31st, sisters Schmidt were condemned to some years in prison. Sarret was sentenced to die. And, in front of Aix-en-Provence jailhouse, on 1934, April 10th, he was guillotined.

Sisters Schmidt were released after WW2, and they both turned over to Germany. The end.
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Who said Things can't go wrong in France?
Thorsten_B28 February 2006
It's not too hard to understand what this film is aiming at: It's a farce about the moral of the bourgeoisie, drawn into it's ridiculous opposite by evil mastermind Michel Piccoli and his two willing helpers. The problem is, the figures are way too one-dimensional; they are more caricatures than real persons. How then display a critique of the society that helps create people like this and protects them by judging not from deeds or character, but from class and status? The murderous trio's actions go their calm, undisturbed way, no one minds it, no one asks. Add a bit of nudity here and there, some frivolity, some virginal innocence as counterpart, mix it up, and what do you get? A would-be-comedy that wants to be art. Considering this is based on actual events, the reconstruction leaves an even worse taste. For a film from the worlds leading film nation, filmed during the most promising decades of film and starring good actors, a major disappointment.
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Movie Infernal
marcin_kukuczka10 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Looking at Romy Schneider's biography, we can say that 1974 saw the heyday of her career. It was so not only due to the fact that most of her greatest roles were already behind her but because she was deeply attached to the glamorous European cinema being acquainted with such top directors of the time like Luchino Visconti and Claude Sautet. Therefore, one may say that Romy was already cured of the sweet image of Sissi since her various roles proved her undeniable flairs to portray different characters and express various kinds of feelings. That year, however, brought her something terribly controversial and shocking, a role of Philomeme Schmidt in TRIO INFERNAL, a movie that raised contradictory feelings among her audience, from impression to fury. Her role was found eccentric by many people and, certainly, this view has not changed in majority till now. Why is it so? Haven't many other movie characters actually shocked us a considerable number of times since 1974?

I think that the main facet of this phenomenon is not so much the character Romy plays since I don't think that anybody may be shocked by Philomene Schmidt and her sexual - materialistic desires any longer. The real core of the problem is the execution of the entire movie content and conveyance of its message based loosely upon the novel by Solange Fasquelle. Being a story of three felons, Georges Sarret (Michel Piccoli) and two Schmidt sisters Philomene (Romy Schneider) and Katrin (Mascha Gonska), it shows how cleverly, how coldly they can do wrong acts (very evil indeed) and adore their own deviations. Partly a comedy, partly a satire but partly a drama, TRIO INFERNAL is filled with rotten decadence, felony, marital treason, perverting images, blasphemous attitudes, and horribly sick behaviors. Georges Sarret is rewarded by his nation as a hero during the war. However, in reality, he is an unrestrained libertine and a vicious criminal. He heads for using the two Schmidt sisters for sex and for wealth. What do they do to gain more: they steal, cheat life insurances and slay innocent people...

That would be so far "acceptable." There are more movies which offer similar content. Yet, I cannot understand why the director shows these events in such an awful way. Killing the couple was one thing but pulling their blooded bodies upstairs, putting them in the tub, covering them with sulfuric acid and having sex at their dead bodies is undeniably far too short of good taste. Moreover, we are, in details, supplied with the image how the three (title's trio infernal) clean this tub... Feels like vomiting... What is more, it all takes place at Christmas time and from time to time we hear a German carol "Oh Tannenbaum", we see the Christmas tree and find "charm" of mockery "all around." Some other scenes in the movie would be acceptable for me but this sequence which lasts for more than 15 minutes is a total failure! I also highly despised the character of Magali (Monica Fiorentini). In fact, there was no point why she was there: a sick girl taken from monastery hospital and introduced to the forbidden fruit of lesbian love... That makes me think of TRIO INFERNAL as "movie infernal."

What can be seen as a plus for this movie? I think there are two virtues: Romy Schneider (performance and looks) as well as music by Ennio Morricone. Romy, in a magnificent powerful flawless way, portrays an eccentric woman who is driven by inner forces and wants to get things only out of her selfish desires. Scene by scene she is terrific at acting and looks magnificent. Yes, it is worth seeing TRIO INFERNAL for Romy Schneider's looks - her make up combined with her costumes and unforgettable facial expressions. Consider, for instance, two moments: at the roulette and in the train to Paris. Music by Ennio Morricone adds a nice thrill to the atmosphere, particularly at the end. That is fine about the movie! When considering other performances, nothing special can be found. Michel Piccoli did better in other roles than here and Mascha Gonska is more a sexy young woman than a good actress.

As for the whole picture, there is nothing exceptionally worth attention in TRIO INFERNAL except for the two aforementioned aspect. The direction is flawed, the cinematography is far from stunning and the action is slow, but, as I already mentioned, filled with macabre events. Although the beginning would seem quite captivating, the dark humor moves too far and spoils much. There are two things in this movie that you will not find elsewhere: real "magic" of decadence and terribly male dominated sexual scenes. "Let's make love in Paris" as Georges says to Katrin should be changed into "I want to f*** you in Paris!" (sorry if I offended someone by that. Nevetheless, that is what this line should be like; it would, though being vulgar, resemble the gist more clearly).

If you are a delicate person, I don't recommend you to see TRIO INFERNAL. Let me be frank: I believe that such films do not serve a good purpose. This movie only seems to be fine in some moments, but in fact it is a black spot on the entire art that cinema is. If I were asked if Romy was right to accept this role, I would not say she wasn't - that was her choice and she did her job as an actress very well proving how diverse roles she was able to take. Yet, if I were asked if Francis Girod was right to make this movie, I would not hesitate to say "No!"
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