8.1/10
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166 user 124 critic

Diabolique (1955)

Les diaboliques (original title)
Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Horror | 21 November 1955 (USA)
The wife and mistress of a cruel headmaster conspire to kill him; after the murder is committed, his corpse disappears, and strange events begin to plague the two women.

Director:

(as H.G. Clouzot)

Writers:

(novel) (as Boileau), (novel) (as Narcejac) | 4 more credits »
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Top Rated Movies #225 | 4 wins. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Christina Delassalle (as Vera Clouzot)
...
...
...
Thérèse Dorny ...
...
Georges Chamarat ...
Dr. Loisy
...
Le garagiste
Camille Guérini ...
Le photographe (as Camille Guerini)
Jacques Hilling ...
...
Le soldat
Aminda Montserrat ...
Madame Plantiveau
Jean Témerson ...
Le garçon d'hôtel (as Jean Temerson)
Jacques Varennes ...
M. Bridoux, professeur
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Storyline

The wife and mistress of a sadistic boarding school headmaster plot to kill him. They drown him in the bathtub and dump the body in the school's filthy swimming pool... but when the pool is drained, the body has disappeared - and subsequent reported sightings of the headmaster slowly drive his 'killers' (and the audience) up the wall with almost unbearable suspense... Written by Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Great Suspense Film That Shocked the World... And Became A Classic. See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

21 November 1955 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Diabolique  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(A.R.T.E.C.)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Simone Signoret hadn't read her contract closely before signing it and didn't realize she was to be paid for only eight weeks, regardless. After sixteen weeks and a wrap, she found out Henri-Georges Clouzot was only going to pay her for the contractually obligated eight. She protested but the outcome didn't change. By the end of the shoot, according to Signoret, she, Véra Clouzot and Henri were no longer on speaking terms. Paul Meurisse and Jean Renoir, who was next door filming _French Cancan (1954)_, were the only ones who made the shoot bearable for her. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Plantiveau, le concierge: Headmaster!
Michel Delassalle: Yes.
Plantiveau, le concierge: Isn't it time I rang the bell?
Michel Delassalle: It's okay. I'll unload the car myself.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The movie ends with a text screen commenting on what the viewer has witnessed, and a request not to spoil the ending for those who are planning to see the movie. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Lured Innocence (2000) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Mystery Extraordinaire
26 August 2007 | by See all my reviews

Set in a French boarding school for boys, "Les Diaboliques" tells the story of two teachers, Christina (played by Vera Clouzot), and Nicole (played by Simone Signoret), who conspire to kill the sadistic headmaster, a man who also happens to be Christina's abusive husband.

Like most murder mysteries, the story is highly improbable; nevertheless, the film is still hugely entertaining, thanks in part to plot twists and turns that even Agatha Christie would admire, and to the film's B&W lighting, that renders a noirish, sinister atmosphere.

The first half is interesting and tightly plotted. But the real strength of the film's underlying premise begins at the mid-point plot turn. The second half is riveting, because the tight plot begins to ooze with mystery and suspense. It builds to a final ten minutes that are as frightening as almost any ending in film history; dark interiors, shadows, ominous light at the end of a long hallway, a general absence of sound, a gloved hand, a scream, and an unexpected image. It's the very definition of spine-tingling suspense.

There is a clue to help solve the story's mystery in the film's first ten minutes; but like any good mystery, that clue is very subtle. All the film's acting is excellent, even down to the children actors. And, Simone Signoret is as wonderful here as she is in all of her other movies.

English subtitles require a little more work for viewers who cannot understand the French dialogue; yet, the story, the acting, and the cinematography should more than offset this minor irritation. Background music occurs only during the film's title sequence and closing credits; this general absence of music thus enhances suspense.

Although not strictly speaking a whodunit, "Les Diaboliques" is a classic murder mystery that has earned a well-deserved reputation for setting the standard for cinematic suspense. The story is riveting, and the film is technically well made. More recent films have tried to copy it; but this is the original.


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