Julien Duvivier’s adaptation of a Georges Simenon novel bears some resemblance to another film released just three years earlier: Clouzot’s Le Corbeau. Both stories involve unjust accusations leading to a violent end. Panique, it seems, was Intended as a commentary on those who collaborated with the occupying German authorities. Michel Simon plays Desire Hire, a wounded eccentric and amateur photographer fascinated by crime and vice. When a woman is killed her murderer sets out to frame Hire, stoking the antipathy of the locals. Palmistry and astrology lend a faint otherworldliness to the scene. Former Moulin Rouge dancer Viviane Romance plays Alice, a woman recently returned from prison, whose boyfriend exploits her affection for his own ends. Strikingly, the rest of the characters prove just as eccentric– though certainly not as noble– as Hire.
Here’s the documentary on the Punch and Judy show:
This is a short film of a Punch and Judy show in 1901. By this time the genre had been gentrified somewhat, pruned of its more disturbing elements in order to meet middle- and upper-class sensibilities.