The Scapegoat (1959)

Unrated  |   |  Crime, Mystery, Thriller  |  6 August 1959 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 1,090 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 3 critic

A French count schemes to kill his wife and implicate a mild-mannered English schoolteacher whom he resembles



(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Complete credited cast:
John Barratt / Jacques De Gue
Nicole Maurey ...
Irene Worth ...
Pamela Brown ...
Annabel Bartlett ...
Geoffrey Keen ...
Noel Howlett ...
Dr. Aloin
Leslie French ...
Alan Webb ...
Maria Britneva ...
Eddie Byrne ...
Alexander Archdale ...
Customs Official


On a vacation in France from his nondescript job and life, John Barratt encounters a titled but impoverished French nobleman who looks exactly like him. The nobleman gets John drunk, and switches places with him to take a breather from his failing business and too-complicated life. John tries to convince everyone he is not who they think he is, but he begins to get more and more involved with the count's family, including an unhappy wife, domineering mother, lonely but talented young daughter, bitter spinster sister and the expected mistress. As John gets to know them he feels he can help them with their problems, but is also becoming used to his borrowed life, which has given him a purpose for the first time. Written by Ron Kerrigan <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He took another man's name... lived another man's life... loved another man's woman! See more »


Unrated | See all certifications »





Release Date:

6 August 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Sündenbock  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


According to Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies, the original choice for Barratt / De Gué was Cary Grant, but Daphne Du Maurier insisted on Alec Guinness because he reminded her of her father, actor Gerald du Maurier. See more »


The 1950 Delahaye 135 MS Cabriolet belonging to Jean is made in France and has Paris plates but the steering wheel is on the right, indicating an export model for England or other countries that drive on the right. See more »


[first lines]
Customs Official: You have the intention of staying long in France, Mr. Barratt?
John Barratt: I don't know. That is to say that I didn't know there was any restriction apart from the question of money.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits are shown over various images of the book by Daphne DuMaurier. See more »


Version of The Scapegoat (2012) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Interesting British Drama From MGM
2 July 2013 | by (Ramsey, NJ) – See all my reviews

"The Scapegoat" starts out with a clever premise and the promise of intrigue, but soon settles down as a character study marked by good, solid acting. Alec Guinness is the star with a dual role, first as a drab professor with an empty life, and then as the scion of a wealthy family who parties, womanizes and neglects his family. They meet and decide to switch places. The professor now has a life, but the rich guy vanishes.

Now follows an absorbing story, based on a novel by Daphne DuMaurier, as the professor enjoys his new surroundings and tries to inject some heart and purpose into his new life, which arouses some suspicions. This may have been a novella fleshed out to a feature-length movie, and I say this because the picture does go on, and the pace is somewhat sluggish - that is, until the surprise ending.

Guinness, Irene Worth and Nicole Maurey put this British/MGM film over with superb acting, with an enlarged cameo by Bette Davis. "The Scapegoat" is something of a departure for Alec Guinness as he gets to show off his considerable acting chops, and there are no comic interludes to be found. The viewer is kept in the dark regarding a solution until the very end, and the end is worth the preceding 90 minutes.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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