For his first French film in nearly a decade (he'd spent the war years in Hollywood), filmmaker Julien Duvivier chose to adapt Les Fiançailles de Monsieur Hire, a novel by Georges Simenon. Panique, as Duvivier's version was titled, is a twisted tale of murder, subterfuge and revenge from "Beyond." Middle-aged loner Monsieur Hire (Michel Simon) falls for his neighbor Alice (Viviane Romance) only to be framed for the murder commited by Alice's lover Alfred (Paul Bernard). The ending suggests that the actual culprits are going to get their well-deserved comeuppance, though exoneration comes a shade too late for the luckless Monsieur Hire. The Simenon book was filmed again in 1989, as the excellent Monsieur Hire, directed by Patrice Leconte, a film as bleakly pessimistic as the original, more in keeping with the style and tone of the literary source.
by Hal Erickson synopsis