A grinning serial killer is hunting the women of Paris, inspector Le Terrier is hot on his trail. This is the basic and simple premise behind Henri Verneuil's Fear Over the City (Peur sur la ville) that came out in 1975. I just saw it last night on a 35 mm print, though it was somewhat faded and full of scratches.
There's much of Italian giallos in this film, and indeed it was partially financed by Italian producers. The Italian feel was heightened by English dubbing, which, while it wasn't badly made in itself, also added to the feel of unintentional humour. The film is at times an uneasy mix between serious thrill-seeking suspense film and a comical, almost self-parodist slapstick. Jean-Paul Belmondo in the lead as Le Terrier made his own stunts and one never really knows whether the scenes are thought to be funny or not, even though Belmondo was clearly at risk here.
In the end, it's only a middling film, with some nice touches here and there, but also with some ludicrous stuff here and there and everywhere. Some of the latter parts are very funny, some aren't. There are some beautiful women to be killed later on, which always makes me squirm a bit. The character of the serial killer is quite intriguing, though, his grin is scary. (I was told that the actor doing the killer's part was Italian, which also may have something to do with the giallo atmosphere.)
The best thing about the film is Ennio Morricone's eerie music. Check out the trailer below. Might've been better in the original French.
More Overlooked Films here at Todd Mason's blog. [Though seems like no post is up yet.]