Les diaboliques
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FAQ for
Diabolique (1955) More at IMDbPro »Les diaboliques (original title)

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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags are used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Diabolique can be found here.

Christina Delassaalle (Véra Clouzot), the wife of sadistic headmaster Michel Delassalle (Paul Meurisse), and his mistress Nicole Horner (Simone Signoret), a teacher at the boarding school, plot to kill him by drowning him in the bathtub and dumping his body in the school's filthy swimming pool. When the pool is subsequently drained, however, the body is gone, and people begin to report sightings of the headmaster, alive and well.

Diaboliques is based on the 1952 novel Celle qui n'tait plus (She Who Was No More) by French writers Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac. The novel was adapted for the screen by French film-maker Henri-Georges Clouzot, who also produced and directed the movie. A remake, Diabolique, was released in 1996.

Literally, Diaboliques translates into English as Devils. It was also titled The Fiends in its UK release.

The movie is in French. It is available with English subtitles or they can be downloaded here. There is an English dub, but most viewers recommend sticking with the original subtitled version.

The school is located in St. Cloud, a western suburb of Paris.

Niort, where Nicole maintains a residence, is about 250 miles (an 8-10 hour drive) southwest of Paris, about halfway between Nantes and Bordeaux. Interestingly, Niort is also the birthplace of director and producer Henri-Georges Clouzot.

There are actually two bath scenes. The first one is where Nicole and Christina drown Michel in the bathtub. In the second bath scene, Christina finds Michel's body back in the bathtub. Michel suddenly comes to life and literally scares her to death. Those who have seen this movie say that the second bathtub scene is as scary as the shower scene in Psycho or the bathtub scene in The Shining.

Yes, Michel asked Christina to take off his shoes just before he fell asleep, and Christina had done so. When Nicole came in, she said to Christina: Remet ses chaussures (Put his shoes back on). The English subtitle, however, says Take off his shoes, apparently a mistranslation. Michel needed to be wearing his shoes if it was going to look like he'd accidentally fallen into the swimming pool.

In the stress of wondering what happened to Michel's body, Christina's heart condition has worsened to the point where the doctor has confined her to her bed. One night, she wakes up to find that a light has been turned on. She stumbles around in the dark looking to see who it is. She hears a typewriter clicking away, but when she gets to it, she finds only Michel's gloves and note saying his name over and over again. Suddenly, the lights turn off. Terrified, Christina runs back to her room, stopping first in the bathroom to pat her sweat-soaked face with cool water. She happens to glance in the bathtub and sees Michel's body lying there, submerged in water. Suddenly, he begins to rise from the water and literally scares Christina to death, causing her to suffer a heart attack. Michel gets out of the tub, removes his fake eyeballs, and kisses Nicole, who has just walked into the bathroom. They congratulate each other for their success at pulling off their plot to kill Christina. Suddenly Detective Fichet steps in and arrests them both. In the final scene, teachers and students are leaving the school. Little Moinet (Yves-Marie Maurin) has his sling shot again. A teacher asks him how he got it, and he says that Christina gave it to him. The teacher reminds him that Christina is dead and makes him stand in a corner for lying. Following this final scene, there is a note to the audience that reads: Don't be devils. Don't ruin the interest your friends could take in this movie. Don't tell them what you saw.

The final scene is ambiguous. Moinet's comment leaves the viewer wondering whether Moinet is lying, whether he's seen Christina's ghost, or whether Christina is just pretending to be dead. Some viewers charge Moinet with being a pathological liar. Others suggest that Christina and Commissaire Fichet (Charles Vanel) cooked up her "death" in order to catch Michel and Nicole.


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