A TV Review by Mike Tooney


“Maigret et l’affaire Saint-Fiacre” [English title: “Maigret Goes Home”]. An installment of Maigret (54 episodes, 1991-2005). Season 1, Episode 19. First broadcast: 20 October 1995. Antenne-2 / Ceská Televize / Dune / EC Télévision. In French with English subtitles. Bruno Cremer (Commissaire Jules Maigret), Jacques Spiesser (Comte de Saint-Fiacre), Anne Bellec (Madame Maigret), Claude Winter (Comtesse de Saint-Fiacre), Jacques Sereys (Le docteur), Pierre Gérard (Jean Métayer), Arno Chevrier (Le curé), Nicolas Moreau (Émile). Adaptation: Alexandre de La Patellière and Denys de La Patellière, based on the novel L’Affaire Saint-Fiacre (1932) by Georges Simenon. Director: Denys de La Patellière.

   Maigret and his wife are first seen driving along on a bright winter’s day. Their destination: Commissaire Maigret’s old home town.

   His interest has been piqued by an anonymous letter which says that a crime will be committed in the church of Saint-Fiacre during Mass. Madame Maigret reminds her husband that the police ordinarily discard such missives, but Maigret presses on.

   Attending an All Souls’ Day service the next day, Maigret and the congregation witness the Comtesse de Saint-Fiacre collapse and die in the church. The Comtesse and her late husband had been Maigret’s father’s employer when he was young — but like most teenagers Maigret couldn’t wait to escape small town life for the bright lights of the big city, which he did the first chance he got.


   The jaded and sarcastic doctor certifies that the Comtesse has died of a heart attack, and informs a skeptical Maigret that it had been a chronic condition with her for years.

   Nevertheless, Maigret senses something is amiss, especially when, belatedly, the Comtesse’s ne’er-do-well wastrel son shows up, characteristically broke and wanting money from her.

   Other people also fall under Maigret’s suspicion: the Comtesse’s “secretary” (a euphemism for her boy toy), the estate’s steward and his banker son, the local priest, and the secretary’s lawyer. Through the steward and his son Maigret learns that the Comtesse was nearly broke.

   Mysteriously, the missal (a prayer book) that the Comtesse had with her when she died disappears. In the event, this missing missal will prove not simply to be a CLUE to what Maigret is now convinced is a murder, he’s certain the innocent prayer book is actually the murder WEAPON….


   I’d hate to be the French judge tasked with determining culpability in this case; a charge of Murder One would likely never be upheld.

   It’s interesting that this story has the classic Golden Age gathering of all the suspects at the end, but differs in having someone else instead of the master detective doing the big reveal — but at Maigret’s direction, we hasten to add.

   The character of Maigret stands in proud second place to Sherlock Holmes when it comes to the number of film adaptations using him.

   The French-Czech Maigret series was originally scheduled to run to 104 fairly faithful-to-the-original stories, but the series’ star Bruno Cremer (1929-2010) fell ill roughly halfway through. Cremer, known in Europe for his tough guy roles, was cast against type as Maigret, but the public loved his portrayal. (Something similar has happened with Terence Hill, star of many violent spaghetti Westerns, who is currently playing a mild-mannered violence-averse Italian Father Brown-type in the Don Matteo series.)

   Other film versions of this story include “Maigret on Home Ground” (1992, one of a 12-episode English language series starring Michael Gambon) and Maigret and the St. Fiacre Case (a 1959 movie with Jean Gabin).