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Simone Signoret plays the title role in this dark melodrama from writer/director Pierre Granier-Deferre. The Widow Couderc is based on a novel by Georges Simenon.
Here Signoret (who also starred in Le Chat, an earlier Granier-Deferre adaptation of a Simenon novel) plays a bitterly independent middle-aged widow; she is a farmer who takes in a handsome young drifter, Jean (Alain Delon), who turns out to be recently released from prison.
Jean does odd jobs for the woman, who lives with her elderly father-in-law, Henri (Jean Tissier), who pretends to be deaf when it suits him, and surreptitiously has an intimate relationship with Couderc.
It's Henri's house, and when Jean moves in, it gives the widow's resentful sister-in-law, Françoise (Monique Chaumette), the excuse she's looking for to get Henri to leave the house so she can sell it.
The widow and Jean have a modest dream of using an incubator to raise chicks and make a decent living, but their plans are further complicated when Françoise's promiscuous teenaged daughter, Félicie (Ottavia Piccolo, who would go on to star opposite Delon again in 1974's Zorro) comes around with her infant son. Félicie clearly has eyes for Jean, and to the consternation of the widow, who holds his fate in her hands, Jean has trouble resisting the younger woman's charms.