(1944)2.5Craig ButlerWhile not totally successful, Mademoiselle Fifi is an interesting film, especially for fans of producer Val Lewton, director Robert Wise or story author Guy de Maupassant. Lewton fans should enjoy Fifi due to the fact that it is a departure for the producer, who is well known for his psychological horror films. It's a period costume drama, but it still sports some of the Lewton hallmarks, such as eerie nighttime sequences and off-camera noises. Wise aficionados will study Fifi to see how the director did in his first solo outing at the helm, and will find that while his work is a bit stuffy and slow, it also has a precision and a sense of elegance to it that are commendable. And Maupassant readers will be interested in the ways in which the adaptors were faithful to the writer and in the ways in which they veered away from his intent. It's in this latter category that Fifi gets in a bit of trouble, as the film is reimagined as an allegory for the then-current World War II situation in Europe. It does so in a heavyhanded and obvious manner that hurts the film, though not fatally. Fifi is also noteworthy for the exquisite performance or Simone Simon as its heroine. She is called upon to shoulder the burden of making the film make sense, keep it moving and imbue each scene with the necessary dramatic moments, and does so exceptionally well. Fifi suffers a bit from its budgetary constraints, but not to a great degree.