This film could have been titled “There Will Be Beef.”
"I've done so much wrong to perform this miracle."
Professor Genessier has good reason for remorse. He is a Parisian plastic surgeon, respected in the profession, a lecturer on the subject of "heterografting," which involves transferring living tissue from one person to another. The downside to this procedure is that it requires both persons to be alive. Having destroyed the face of his daughter in a reckless car accident, he now wants to repair the damage by transplanting the face of another woman. The "miracle" he refers to involves the face of his lover, nurse and assistant, Louise. He has restored her face so successfully that she now looks just like Alida Valli, who played Harry Lime's lover in "The Third Man." Valli's characters have bad luck on dates.
Genessier (Pierre Brasseur) is the mad scientist at the heart of "Eyes Without a Face" (1959), Georges Franju's merciless horror classic, now being revived in a new 35mm print. The professor was presumeably at one time a reputable plastic surgeon, but now, in his isolated suburban mansion, he experiments on dogs, birds, and helpless young women who are supplied to him by the faithful Louise. One of the startling elements of the film is how graphic it is about his procedures; we see bloody incisions being made all around a victim's face, and when one transplant is interrupted by a visit with the police, he leaves the skin flaps open and waiting, secured by surgical implements.
The film opens with Louise on a nocturnal mission for the doctor, driving a corpse to the Seine and dumping it in. This is the latest victim of a failed procedure. Since Genessier's great success with Louise his work has not gone well, and soon he sends her out to kidnap another woman. His daughter Christiane (Edith Scob) waits sedated in a locked room, her flayed face concealed by a mask so that only her eyes move. Having reported Christiane missing after the accident, Genessier identifies the dead woman in the river as his daughter, and prepares to remove the face of the new victim, Paulette (Beatrice Altariba).