Widely credited as the founding father of the French Nouvelle Vague movement, Claude Chabrol is responsible for a body of work that is as prolific as it is boldly defined. A master of the suspense thriller, Chabrol approaches his subjects with a cold, distanced objectivity that has led at least one critic to liken him to a compassionate but unsentimental god viewing the foibles and follies of his creations. Inherent in all of Chabrol's thrillers is the observation of the clash between bourgeois value and barely-contained, oftentimes violent passion. This clash gives the director's work a melodramatic quality that has allowed him to drift between the realm of the art film and that of popular entertainment.
Born in Paris on June 24, 1930, Chabrol was educated at the University of Paris, where he was a pharmacology student, and at the Ecole Libre des Sciences Politiques. Following some military service, he developed an interest in the cinema and worked for a brief time in the publicity department of 20th Century Fox's French headquarters. Chabrol's true film career began during the 1950s, when he became one of a legendary group of critics for Cahiers du cinéma. Writing alongside the likes of Eric Rohmer (with whom he wrote a groundbreaking study of Alfred Hitchcock), Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Rivette, and François Truffaut, Chabrol developed theories of authorship that are still influential today, and attempted to revolutionize the cinematic value system.