This one is impossible to pigeon hole. Beside its noir elements that keep breaking forth throughout, it also is a bit of a Christmas story. It is mainly a sharp rendering of village life and characters, including the children. And it also contains a poetic-romantic story. The mystery element is slight because we are given a strong but not entirely unambiguous visual clue near the beginning.
The time is before and on Christmas. The place is a snow-laden and isolated village in a mountain area. Such settings can easily be as noir as any city-scape via the use of well-chosen times of day. The Church has a valuable diamond ring that it puts on display near the manger every year. This year a thief wants it and will plot to steal it, placing the blame on Harry Baur, who always dresses up as Santa and visits homes with children. The kids get quite a lot of play in the movie, and they're priceless. Baur's daughter (Renée Faure) is pursued by the local schoolteacher (Robert Le Vigan), who is an anti-cleric, rather stuck on himself but not a bad guy. Her heart is with Raymond Rouleau, however. Faure could not be better as the love-stricken maiden. Among several oddities in this story, Rouleau is a returning baron whose fortune is gone, and he's wearing a glove and letting it be known that he is leprous. Another oddity is that the local pharmacist's (Jean Brochard) wife is partly mad and wanders around everywhere asking people if they've seen her missing cat. Baur has the curious occupation of making hand-made globes. The children, confined to village life, love to hear him spin tales about China and a Chinese warlord. Fernand Ledoux is the town mayor. Near the end, Bernard Blier appears as a policeman called into the village because of the body that has been found, the theft and several people being knocked about.
This movie passed German control and censorship. But did it convey anti-German sentiments in some subtle ways? The story is not set in the time of the German occupation and has nothing to say about it. The criminal involved is French. The disturbance of the village's traditions by this person might mirror the German intrusion into France and the French collaborators. There are several hopeful plot turns toward the end that may suggest that the French will survive the occupation and stand on their own feet again.